Search icon


News Section Icon Published 11/11/2008

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could help free hundreds of thousands of hens from cages having added its support to our Cage-Free Council campaign.

Defra told Compassion in World Farming that they will encourage public sector bodies to move away from eggs from caged hens both for whole eggs and products containing eggs.

Our Cage-free Council campaign began in 2007 and saw five councils receive Good Egg Awards alongside the House of Commons and London's City Hall. The campaign has grown rapidly and 21 councils have now made the cage-free pledge. With Defra's support we hope to even more will make the move.

Central and local councils employ over 2.5 million staff and most public bodies not only provide food for their employees but also for schools and care homes.

Defra's Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative, published earlier in 2008, covers animal welfare and sustainable farming and outlines why public bodies should move away from eggs laid by hens kept in barren battery cages. This follows the UK Government making its support of the 2012 EU ban on the barren battery cage public.

Further political support

The issue of animal welfare in public spending has also been supported within the House of Commons. Chris Mullin, Sunderland South MP, has tabled a motion calling on public bodies to procure food with higher standards of farm animal welfare. The motion, which states that battery eggs are no longer appropriate, has been supported by 140 MPs.

Changes in procurement policies to include higher animal welfare standards have been witnessed across Europe. Current EU Good Egg Award winners include:

  • European Parliament
  • The Municipality of Verucchio in the Province of Rimini, Italy
  • The Municipality of Argelato in the Province of Bologna, Italy
  • The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture

Compassion in World Farming celebrates councils that are cage-free or commit to being cage-free by awarding them Good Egg Awards. In 2008, award winners effectively released over 10 million hens from cages, doubling the number released by Good Egg Award winners' commitments in 2007.

Take action

You could help us release even more laying hens by writing just one letter:


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).