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Country News - 2003

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Coming home to roost - in Parliament

Monday 03 March 2003

CAMPAIGNERS working for a ban on all battery cages in-so called poultry "factory farms" are planning to demonstrate outside the House of Commons tomorrow (March 4) - and will be taking their chickens with them.

Sunderland MP Chris Mullin is to introduce a bill to parliament which would ban all cages in poultry units, including the slightly larger so-called "comfort units" which many European farmers have been backing as a replacement for the standard battery cages, which are due to be phased out by law - but not for another nine years.

The comfort units, or "enriched" cages as their supporters call them, have been subject to much controversy - including letters to our Have your say column - but Chris Mullin says:

"Germany has already banned these 'enriched' cages, recognising that they provide no significant welfare benefits. If they can do it, so can we. We should insist on humane treatment for the chickens that produce our eggs."

Peter Stevenson, political and legal director of Compassion in World Farming, which is backing the Mullin bill, comments:

"It would be immensely disappointing if the hard-won ban on conventional cages simply led to hens being shifted into 'enriched' cages. Farmers should instead move over to well-run free-range or perchery systems."

CIWF has published a report that demonstrates that 'enriched' cages provide too little floor space and insufficient height to allow hens to perform many basic behaviours such as turning, wing-stretching and wing-flapping.

Moreover, they do not allow hens properly to satisfy their needs to dust-bathe, lay their eggs in a nest, perch, and peck and scratch at the ground.


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