Arguably factory farming at its worst, the battery cage production system permanently confines hens in small cages within a shed for their entire lives.
Each hen can be allocated space no greater than that of an A4 sized piece of paper, and is not provided a nest in which to lay her eggs nor litter for scratching, pecking or dust bathing.
These extreme deprivations prevent hens from performing their full range of behaviour and can lead to severe physical and mental stress.
Forced to stand on wire flooring, hens often suffer chronic pain from foot lesions and serious bone and muscle weakness. The wire cage flooring can result in a hen’s feet becoming sore, cracked and deformed, and in some cases, her nails twisting around the wire mesh flooring to restrict her movements even further or trapping her to the floor.
There are approximately 11 - 12 million hens confined in battery cage systems across Australia.
Yet all egg production in Australia involves negative welfare impacts for an egg-laying hen and her chicks. Find out more about the Inherent Cruelties here >>>
Despite growing interest in cage-free egg production, the Australian egg industry and government are still highly supportive of the use of cages.
Arguments about ‘consumer choice’ are being used to stifle legitimate concerns about the ethics of battery cage use, despite the fact that Australia is lagging well behind international standards on this issue.
Battery cages have already been banned in a significant number of global markets due to the severe welfare issues inherent in their use, including Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and Austria. In Australia, the ACT is the only jurisdiction to have completely prohibited the use of battery cages.
Yet now there is pressure for change.
Voiceless believes that the widespread abuse within the caged egg industry can no longer be permitted, and calls for an immediate end to the use of battery cages in Australia.
Want to do more for hens? You can download the latest Voiceless research briefing, which provides an overview of facts about the Australian egg industry and the key welfare issues for hens and their chicks.