1. Battery cages which do not provide a nest box, perch or
litter arguably cause hens frustration and suffering. It may be
that battery cages in their present form should be phased out
throughout the EU if hens can be practically provided with
greater space, nests, perches and possibly scratching, foraging
and dust bathing facilities in other systems without increasing
injurious pecking. FAWC is of the opinion that the use of
conventional battery cages should be phased out in the long term
with the following provisos which should be energetically
- The UK industry must be protected from unfair competition
from elsewhere within the EU; phasing out throughout the
EU must take place simultaneously.
- Imports of shell eggs and egg products into the EU must
be banned from those countries in which conventional
battery cages are still used. GATT/WTO arrangements
should not be allowed to prevent these measures and, if
necessary, the UK Government should seek an amendment to
the agreement in order to protect the welfare of animals.
- There are signs that genetic selection for reduced
injurious pecking behaviour may remove an obstacle to the
widespread use of non-cage systems. The phasing out of
battery cages should not be effected until after the
elimination or successful control of injurious pecking
and cannibalism through genetic progress or improvements
to management technique.
2. We group our recommendations into three basic categories:
- Early action - for implementation without delay;
- Longer term action - to be phased in as progress is made;
- Further research and development - to assist future
consideration of issues where uncertainty remains.