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October 22, 2013

New Footage Shows Disturbing Conditions in Battery Cage Facilities

Humane Society International/Canada Calls on egg industry to take immediate steps to end the use of intensive confinement for laying hens

Humane Society International/Canada

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    Most eggs in sold Canada come from hens confined in cages. Matthew Scherf/istock

MONTREAL—In the wake of new footage showing laying hens confined in battery cages, Humane Society International/Canada is calling on the Canadian egg industry to establish a timeline to end the use of these cage housing systems. The footage, filmed by Mercy for Animals Canada and aired on CTV’s W5 program on October 19th, shows birds confined in cages so small that they cannot even stretch their wings.
 
Sayara Thurston, campaigner with Humane Society International/Canada, stated: “Right now, tens of millions of laying hens in Canada are treated as egg-laying machines, crammed into tiny, barren cages for their entire lives. These images show that laying hens suffer in confinement systems that are currently considered standard industry practice. We applaud the provincial egg industry associations for passing resolutions to move away from extreme confinement in newly constructed facilities, and now call on them to take urgent action to end the use of battery cages in all existing operations.”

Of the 26 million laying hens in Canada, approximately 95 percent of these birds are confined in wire cages known as battery cages. These cages give each hen less space than an average piece of writing paper to spend her entire life and prevent birds from expressing natural behaviours such as stretching their wings, perching, or laying their eggs in a nest.
 
HSI/Canada calls on the National Farm Animal Care Council to set a firm timetable for the phase-out of battery cages in Canada in its ongoing review of the Code of Practice for laying hens. HSI commends the Egg Farmers of Canada and some provincial producers associations for passing resolutions (some non-binding) to ensure that no new battery cage facilities are constructed as of December 31st, 2014. This is a positive step and HSI/Canada now urges the Canadian egg industry to implement that commitment and move away from intensive confinement systems in all facilities as soon as possible.

Facts:

  • 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.
  • 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 outlawed the use of conventional battery cages as of January 1st, 2012.
  • In the United States, the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States are working jointly to end the use of barren battery cages.

Media Contact: Christopher Paré, HSI/Canada: 514.395.2914; cpare@hsi.org

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection with 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. On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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