Chicken and duck farming will dramatically change in Australia as the government laid out new animal welfare standards after years of discussion, but the improvements won’t come quickly.
The new guidelines announced Thursday include phasing out “conventional layer hen cages” over 10 to 15 years — at the latest by 2036.
Farmers would also be required to provide “environmental enrichment” for their chickens, and duck farmers have to provide access to bathing and dunking water.
Changes to minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation and temperature management are also part of the new rules.
“This follows an extensive process of stakeholder consultation, and the consideration of contemporary animal welfare science and community expectations,” the government explained.
But not everyone is happy with the changes.
The Animal Justice Party, for example, called the improvements long overdue.
“These are welcome changes, but they aren’t fast enough!”
BREAKING NEWS— Animal Justice Party (@animaljusticeAU) August 18, 2022
End of battery cages!
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards & Guidelines for Poultry have just been released, with a long overdue move to phase out the use of battery cages nationally.
These are welcome changes, but they aren’t fast enough!https://t.co/xZkqjLpLCb pic.twitter.com/cnH8i0Z7HK
Australian Alliance for Animals pointed out the “historic decision” merely means millions of laying hens to barren battery cages for years yet.
📢BREAKING NEWS: A historic decision has just been released by the Government, announcing that millions of layer hens will be freed from barren battery cages by 2036.— Australian Alliance for Animals (@Alliance_AAFA) August 18, 2022
Media inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/qv6e9tDMgs
Animals Australia agreed — and it was even more harsh in its assessment.
“Until then, millions more birds may be condemned to lives of abject misery,” it said.
The barren #BatteryCage will be banned in Australia from 2036.— Animals Australia (@AnimalsAus) August 18, 2022
Until then, millions more birds may be condemned to lives of abject misery.
Unless state governments choose to phase out cages in their state sooner.
Will you speak up for hens?
ACT NOW 👉 https://t.co/nUsM67UkDY pic.twitter.com/V6bUeeFpSs
“Agriculture Ministers have sentenced egg laying hens to at least another decade in battery cages – despite overwhelming calls from Australians to bring the ‘cage age’ to an end,” the group said. “State governments could still choose to expedite a battery cage ban in their states.”
Animals Australia says barren battery cages are an outdated form of factory farming.
“Sociable animals who would normally spend their days foraging, exploring and dust-bathing are kept in stacked wire cages, crammed in with up to 5 other birds,” the group said. “Caged hens never feel sunlight and cannot even stretch and flap their wings. It’s a miserable existence.”
It now wants people to write their MPs to speed up the process to end caging of hens sooner than the long phase out.
“The phase out period will last 10 to 15 years – potentially condemning more than 55 million hens to a lifetime of misery,” it added.
Animal Justice Leader Georgie Purcell also said the rules need to be implemented sooner.
“Chickens are just some of the best animals,” she tweeted. “They are curious, smart & affectionate. They are also one of the most abused animals in the country. Today’s announcement is a good start, but it’s just too far away.”
“Chickens are just some of the— Animal Justice Party (@animaljusticeAU) August 18, 2022
They are curious, smart & affectionate.
They are also one of the most abused animals in the country.
Today’s announcement is a good start, but it’s just too far away.”
– @georgievpurcell@AJP_Victoria pic.twitter.com/zszMSOg1kd
Main photo: Animals Australia