Compassion in World Farming is calling for urgent action from the European Commission to prevent several major EU nations flouting the barren battery cage ban when it comes into force in January.
Figures obtained by Compassion paint a worrying picture of lack of progress and in some cases, inability to report reliable figures. The figures show the expected numbers of hens in the different laying systems as of 1st January 2012 when the ban on battery cages comes into force in the EU.
Cause for concern
Major egg producing nations Italy and Spain are unable to provide reliable figures and the numbers from France show an estimated 6.1 million hens still in barren battery cages at the turn of the year.
On 1st January 2012, barren battery cages - cages with no facilities for birds to perch, nest or scratch - will be banned in the EU, as will selling eggs which have been produced from this system within the EU.
According to the figures from the Commission, the UK's egg farmers will be fully compliant with the ban.
EU must stand firm
Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor at Compassion, says: "These figures are extremely worrying for the welfare of hens in the EU.
"Barren battery cages do not allow for hens to stretch their wings or exhibit many other natural behaviours. The EU is taking the lead by banning these cages from 1st January. It is essential they stand firm and put pressure on national governments to make sure their farmers are ready for the ban."
Through its The Big Move campaign Compassion supports the ban but we urge consumers to go cage free when buying eggs.
Enough time to prepare
There are no excuses for not being fully compliant on 1st January, as the date for the ban was fixed in 1999.
Despite this, Poland will have more than 4 million hens in the banned cages. Portugal will still have more than 2.7 million barren battery hens out of the country's 6.8 million commercial laying stock.
Alongside the UK, major producers like Germany and The Netherlands will be ready for the ban, as will many other nations.
We agree and we need to see action from member states and the Commission alike to make sure the ban comes into effect on time and in full.
- Find out how you can help put pressure on the authorities to make sure the law is observed at The Big Move
- See which companies have won our Good Egg Award by pledging to go cage free.