Poultry: laying hens
Briefing - updated March 2012
20 page report. October 2009, revised March 2011.
This report reviews the evidence from the scientific literature and from practical experience which demonstrates that feather pecking and cannibalism can be controlled in non-cage systems without beaktrimming.
3 page briefing from October 2010.
21 page case study from 2010.
This case study gives an account of how beak trimming of laying hens in Austria was largely phased out in the first half of the last decade whilst at the same time feather pecking and injurious pecking were reduced due to a programme to improve bird health and welfare. Since then there has been a considerable expansion of large-scale barn production following the ban on cage systems without the need for beak trimming.
22 page case study from 2010.
This case study gives an account of how beak trimming of laying hens in Columbian Blacktail hens is being phased out without an increase in feather pecking or cannibalism. This was achieved using a programme to improve bird health and welfare which has also seen a reduction in injurious pecking in organic systems.
40 page report from 2007.
This report looks at the scientific evidence to assess the ability of ‘enriched’ cages and non-cage systems to meet the welfare requirements of laying hens. The report concludes that well designed and managed non-cage systems provide higher standards of welfare than ‘enriched’ cages and that ‘enriched’ cages fail to meet many of the welfare requirements of hens.
25 page report from 2006.
Battery cages are due to be banned in the EU from 2012 but increasing industry pressure may result in a delay of up to 10 years. This illustrated report details the reasons why this is unacceptable.
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6 page summary from 2006.
12 page report from 2004.
Case studies of practical alternatives to the battery cage from Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
24 page report from 2002.
Produced in response to promotion of ‘enriched cages’ by the EU egg industry; showing how they fail to overcome disadvantages of battery cages, since the hens still have inadequate space for natural behaviour. Discusses details of cage dimensions and design and economics of battery and ‘enriched’ cage.
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24 page report from 1999.
Uses results from published scientific studies to show that confinement in battery cages prevents hens from exercising their limbs and is the main cause of hens suffering broken bones from bone weakness. Section on bone breakages in transport for slaughter. Includes table of scientific results and glossary.
52 page report from 1997.
Detailed study of the welfare implications of housing hens in battery cages, and their behavioural needs, based on review of scientific literature.
20 page report from 1991.
Study of health and welfare of hens in cages, written by Edinburgh University welfare expert. Concludes hens suffer more in cages than in well-run alternative systems.
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