Some UK hens still in battery cages

BRITISH LION egg producers are “disgusted” that some UK egg producers are still keeping hens in conventional battery cages despite an EU ban from 1 January 2012. 

British egg producers have invested £400m converting to enriched cages to comply with new European legislation that came into force on January 1. The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive bans the use of so-called ‘barren cages’

However Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has admitted that a small number of non-Lion cage producers, representing a small proportion of UK production, have not met the deadline for conversion.

British Egg Industry Council Chairman, Andrew Parker, said: “We are disgusted that these few producers are still using banned barren battery cages.  It is illegal and is grossly unfair on the vast majority of UK producers who have invested £400m in ensuring that they meet the new standards on time.”

Parker urged the enforcement authorities to take immediate action against any non-compliant producer. All British Lion cage flocks are compliant with the EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive and all British Lion cage eggs now come from hens kept in more animal welfare-friendly colony cages.

Around 50 million hens – producing 40 million eggs a day – are known to still be in banned battery cages in several other EU member states, including Italy, Spain and Poland .  The BEIC has commenced Judicial Review proceedings against Defra because of their failure to ban imported eggs and egg products produced in illegal cages.

The National Farmers Union is also calling for a change in the stamping system to ensure those producers who have met the new Directive are not put at a commercial disadvantage.