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January 27, 2012

HSI Canada Seeks Phase Out of Battery Cages For Canada’s Egg Laying Hens

“Code of Practice” review opens the door for more humane treatment for millions of animals

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Current industry housing standards allow for outdated and cruel practices such as confining hens in barren battery cages for their entire adult lives.

MONTREAL – Humane Society International/Canada calls for a phase out of battery cages following the announcement by the National Farm Animal Care Council to update the Code of Practice for egg laying hens, a code which was last updated in 2003. The update comes at the request of the Egg Farmers of Canada, as per NFACC protocols, which stipulate that an industry must request an update to their Code of Practice in order for a review to take place.

“HSI Canada welcomes the initiative by Egg Farmers of Canada to update their code of practice. Current industry housing standards allow for outdated and cruel practices such as confining hens in barren battery cages for their entire adult lives. These cages confine hens in a space so small that they can’t even stretch their wings,” said Sayara Thurston, campaigner with HSI Canada. “We’re hopeful that this update will usher in much higher welfare standards for the millions of laying hens kept across the country.”

HSI Canada is encouraged that this review will spell the beginning of the end of current industry practices, which pose major concerns to animal welfare. The most severe of these practices is the intensive confinement of more than 95 percent of Canada’s 26 million egg laying hens in barren battery cages. The Code of Practice update is a two year process, which includes a 60 day public comment period once the first draft of the new code is published. A phase out of the use of barren battery cages would bring Canada in line with numerous other countries who have taken similar steps to end the use of intensive confinement for laying hens.


  • In a battery cage, a hen will live out her entire adult life on less space than an average sheet of writing paper; she cannot spread her wings and will never have the chance to perch, dust bathe, or forage for food – all essential natural behaviors.
  • Battery cage restrictive housing results in both physical and psychological problems; scientific studies have consistently shown that laying hens suffer in battery cages.
  • Cage-free alternatives to battery cage housing offer much higher welfare levels for laying hens and are already used successfully in Canada and around the world.
  • The European Union has outlawed the use of conventional battery cages.
  • In the United States, federal legislation to end the use of battery cages in all states was recently presented to Congress.
  • New Zealand’s Parliament is currently working on legislation to ban the use of battery cages.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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