Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In New Zealand, Cruel Hen Cages Move Closer To Phase-Out


Cruel hen cages move closer to phase-out

Hens have now been given a better chance to live out their egg-laying lives within more humane conditions, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said.

"I am delighted that Parliament's Regulations Review committee has recommended to Government that the Layer Hen code be re-written, so that it complies with the Animal Welfare Act, and that a date be set for the phasing out of current layer hen cages.

"Effectively this will mean the industry now has to go back to the drawing board and devise a code that does comply with the Animal Welfare Act," Ms Kedgley said.

"It will also mean that the industry now finally has to set a date to phase out layer hen cages, instead of endlessly procrastinating on the issue.

"Hens can't even turn around in layer hen cages, or stretch their wings or express normal patterns of behaviour. It's a travesty that such cruel kinds of cages should be permitted at all under the Animal Welfare Act, and I am delighted that the committee had the courage to acknowledge that they don't comply."

Ms Kedgley, who sat on the Regulations Review hearings into a complaint from the Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network about the layer hen code, said she was pleased the cross-party committee partially upheld the complaint, and recognised that the present Layer Hen code did not comply with the Animal Welfare Act.

"The committee noted that the existing layer hen cages do not comply with the principles of the Animal Welfare Act which require animals to be able to display normal patterns of behaviour," Ms Kedgley said.

"The committee agreed with the complainant that the Layer Hen code made unusual and unexpected use of the powers of the Animal Welfare Act, particularly in its interpretation of 'exceptional circumstances' that are beyond the intent of the Act.

"This important decision sends a clear message to the food production industries in New Zealand that they cannot continue to justify non compliance with the Act by claiming that the difficulties in phasing out their current non-complying activities - such as battery hen cages - can qualify as 'exceptional circumstances,' Ms Kedgley said.

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