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Keeping birds in cages is not the answer

News Section Icon Published 10/09/2014

The Times and the Daily Mail have today reported that free-range hens are more likely to catch diseases, get injured or die younger than those kept in cages.

These articles are missing the point.

Anyone who has seen first-hand an egg-laying farm with caged hens and a well managed free-range farm can see that the more natural life and the happier, healthier chickens, are those in the free-range environment.

In a caged environment, hens often lose a large proportion of their feathers due to damage from the sides of the cage and bullying from other hens. So chicks routinely have part of their beaks cut off without anaesthetic.

It is important to ensure that the management is handled well on all free-range farms. They should be well regulated and farmers given access to management tools that are necessary to ensure that free-range hens get to enjoy their freedom. Freedom that they simply don’t have when kept in a caged system.

Dil Peeling, our Director of Campaigns says: “Rather than reject a system that allows freedom to roam and express natural behaviours, we should surely be looking to apply those good management practices across the board.

“Many of the problems identified in the articles can and are successfully addressed by good management. Indeed, given the option, in tests hens consistently choose to avoid cages.”

Consumers have made a huge difference to laying hens’ welfare by choosing to buy higher welfare options, free-range being one of those. Let’s not go backwards and cage our hens. Free-range hens definitely have a better quality of life.



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