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It’s Time to Revisit the Battery Cage Ban

By mos 8 August 2008 54

In September last year, as a result of a concerted campaign by Free Range Canberra supported by the Human Battery Cage project and the tabling of a Bill to ban battery cages in the ACT by Greens MLA Dr Deb Foskey, the ACT Government announced three measures “designed to phase out battery egg production in the ACT and change the egg-buying patterns of Canberrans”. The measures were;

  • an offer of $1 million in industry assistance to help Pace Farm change from battery farming to the barn method of egg production,
  • a pledge to source the eggs purchased by ACT government institutions such as hospitals and schools from barn or free-range producers,
  • an undertaking to write to your fellow Agriculture Ministers and heads of government ‘as a matter of urgency’ to get a national approach to phasing out battery farming onto the agenda for the next Ministerial Council and the next gathering of the Council of Australian Governments.

On the positive side, the change in the government’s purchasing policy for eggs is underway and is expected to be complete by May 2009.

But as for the other two measures, negotiations with Pace Farm have failed and Jon Stanhope has admitted that he has failed in establishing a national approach to a ban.

A ban on battery cages has the strong support of the ACT community. A local survey commissioned in September 2005 found 73% of respondents supported banning the cages. A WIN TV News poll last year resulted in an overwhelming 94% support for a ban.

The ACT’s only cage egg producer Pace Farm has shown that it is not committed to the long-term survival of its Parkwood facility. In response to the changes to regulations which came into effect on 1 January this year requiring caged hens to be given slightly more space (an extra centimetre in each direction), Pace have simply lowered their stocking rates rather than spend money to replace their old, filthy cages.

According to their Emission Report on the National Pollutant Inventory website, Pace Farm employs 14 people at Parkwood. Their annual rent for the 41.44 hectares on which their operation is located is a mere $486.

Pace Farm is clearly not an important industry in the ACT – but it is certainly a cruel industry. The Parkwood sheds were recently depopulated – i.e., the hundreds of thousands of hens who have spent the last 15 or so months in the cages were hauled out and passed hand-to-hand by their legs before being crammed into crates and transported for hundreds of kilometres in open trucks to be slaughtered.

The handling of the hens resulted in most of them suffering broken legs even before getting to the crates and, as has happened on previous occasions, hundreds were dropped or escaped from the cages and fell into the manure pits below the cages. Many of these hens drowned in the liquefied waste while others became bogged and were left to starve. The industry Code of Practice demands that such hens be retrieved on the same day – they were not.

There is a world-wide move away from inhumane battery cages. An EU-wide ban on the use of conventional battery cages for egg laying hens will be applied from 1 January 2012. The US state of California will vote in November this year on a proposal to ban the cages.

Over 150 US University campuses – including Harvard, Princeton and Tufts – have made the decision not to support the cruelty of battery hen farming while in this country, the University of Newcastle has decided to have all food outlets use cage-free eggs.

Three Tasmanian local councils (Hobart, Clarence and Launceston) have recently announced that they will only use eggs from free range farms at council functions.

Consumers and retailers are also moving away from cage eggs and embracing eggs from the more humane free-range system. In the UK, the sale of free-range eggs has risen by almost a third since the end of last year and in February more households were buying free-range eggs rather than caged eggs for the first time.

The Australian Egg Corporation Annual Reports show that the market share of free-range eggs in Australia rose from 20.3% to 23.4% in the 12 months to June 2007 while the sale of cage eggs dropped from 74.9% to 71.4% in the same period.

The world-wide move away from cage eggs is clear and irresistible.

When the three Government measures were announced Chief Minister Jon Stanhope stated that “if the offer of industry assistance was not accepted after negotiation with Pace and if advocacy at the national level proved fruitless the Government was prepared to revisit the issue of battery egg production in the future”.

Now is clearly the time to revisit the issue of a ban.

What’s Your opinion?


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54 Responses to
It’s Time to Revisit the Battery Cage Ban
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d-kore 10:24 pm 10 Aug 08

Jonathon Reynolds said :

@d-kore:

I can do one better than that… having actually visited various abattoirs (admittedly overseas) and seeing animals walk in at one end and come out, pre-packaged ready for sale the other, didn’t and still doesn’t phase me the slightest.

If you are serious and passionate about the issue perhaps you ought to consider standing for the Free Range Canberra party as it appears they desperately bereft of candidates at this time… or perhaps that all sounds like to much effort as it is far easier to throw stones, anonymously ranting and raving, carrying on like a “pork chop” from the sidelines instead.

@ Jonathon Reynolds:

So you like to visit abattoirs in your spare time?
As I’m not sure what country you were in and whether or not they were raised by factory farming methods, I can’t really comment. If the animals looked like they were in good health, they were probably doing a lot better than the chickens and cows that we were actually discussing.

Don’t think I’m in the best position to be joining a political party at this stage, but I do demonstrate what I believe through the choices I make with what I buy and what I eat. LOL – didn’t realise I was throwing stones or ranting and raving! I thought I was expressing an opinion and responding to someone who seems to ‘passionately’ oppose the concept of humane treatment of animals.

ant 10:02 pm 10 Aug 08

Freewheelindave said:

freewheelindave said :

Rescue one today by buying a boiler and then release the maimed bird to witness first hand the terrible life inflicted upon innocent creatures.

Where can we buy these birds? It would be worthwhile to rescue these birds. Musing, I could have chooks now I’ve given up the peripatetic ski instructing life. Next door have geese and they wander over here, I could get a bunch of tough old chooks and they could have wars. (they’d probably make friends).

I used to go to the Canberra chook show and wonder at the amazing variety of chooks, from tree-trunk-legged Indian chooks to tiny elaborate bantams. I bought a large number of Langshengs for the family farm at one point. But a bunch of abused old hens would be rather nice to have.

sepi 10:00 pm 10 Aug 08

I’d call cutting off the front of their beaks to fit more of them into the miniture cages cruelty myself.

Vice pope – just look up battery hens on google pics – it is scary stuff. I’m not going to do a link, cos I really don’t want to see the images.

ant 9:56 pm 10 Aug 08

As for the $7 eggs, today I got a nice box of eggs at Mother Nature’s in Qbn, from the (I think and am too lazy to scuttle to the fridge) brown egg company, whose hens can express themselves and other stuff, for $5.

Timberwolf65 6:19 pm 10 Aug 08

I had two chooks, and they use to lay beautiful eggs and eat all the left over kitchen scraps, they were awesome…Sadly they died… I myself refuse to buy caged eggs, free range all the way.

VicePope 6:12 pm 10 Aug 08

Why not have a scheme where those who give a rats about the comfort of chickens dip into their own pockets to subsidise free range eggs for all? They’d get a nice warm feeling, poor people would experience the delights of free range and the chooks would, allegedly, be happier.

(For my part, my extensive and early exposure to chooks suggested that they have no, or next to no, useful appreciation of comfort. They would react to cruelty and starvation, but those are matters that are already addressed by the RSPCA and government. What constitutes a proper and adequate space is a matter for experts, not well-meaning amateurs who apply human standards to another creature. I’m not an expert).

freewheelindave 6:07 pm 10 Aug 08

We are all responsible through inaction for the ongoing cruelty to battery incarcerated hens.
As sentient beings they deserve to be treated with respect.

If humans are punished with jail conditions far better than those of the battery hen, what could have the creatures done to deserve such a ghastly life?

Rescue one today by buying a boiler and then release the maimed bird to witness first hand the terrible life inflicted upon innocent creatures.

And then over time watch with wonder as it recovers its wild beauty, grows to fly and eat without pain and resumes its capabilities to feed, amuse, and communicate with us humans.

We are what we eat.

Bassman 3:54 pm 10 Aug 08

There are few things in this world more appalling than people who are happy for animals to suffer, just so they can save a few dollars.
My family are Beef farmers, and yes, we could make a lot more money by converting to a feedlot. But it wouldn’t be morally right. I love eggs, beef and milk…. But there is no need for cruelty, just to save a few miserable dollars.

I don’t know how battery farmers can sleep at night.

Jonathon Reynolds 3:10 pm 10 Aug 08

@d-kore:

d-kore said :

I’d like to see how appetising you’d find the milk and eggs you’re consuming if you had the sickly, diseased and miserable animals who’d produced them right in front of you!

I can do one better than that… having actually visited various abattoirs (admittedly overseas) and seeing animals walk in at one end and come out, pre-packaged ready for sale the other, didn’t and still doesn’t phase me the slightest.

If you are serious and passionate about the issue perhaps you ought to consider standing for the Free Range Canberra party as it appears they desperately bereft of candidates at this time… or perhaps that all sounds like to much effort as it is far easier to throw stones, anonymously ranting and raving, carrying on like a “pork chop” from the sidelines instead.

pelican 2:51 pm 10 Aug 08

I wonder how many people who don’t want to pay more for free range but are quite happy to spend their much loved dollars on frivoulous items.

100% free range is the only decent humane thing to do whether the farming practice is legal or not. Something being legal does not mean it is right’ it only means we have not yet evolved out of an archaic farming practice.

If cost was the only factor then we would endorse slave labour or sweat shops.

mos 2:38 pm 10 Aug 08

d-kore: “I’d like to see how appetising you’d find the milk and eggs you’re consuming if you had the sickly, diseased and miserable animals who’d produced them right in front of you!”

You’re dead right, d-kore. But also – if consumers could see and smell the filthy, disgusting conditions in which their cage eggs are laid I’m sure they wouldn’t touch them.

d-kore 1:24 pm 10 Aug 08

Jonathon Reynolds said :

You are right – I don’t care. So long as the eggs are produced legally I don’t have a guilty conscience nor see any dilemma. As I said in a comment earlier if it so much of an issue of cruelty then the RSPCA would have ensured that Pace Farms were closed down years ago.

Furthermore, for your information I don’t smoke, rarely drink and don’t have any need for new televisions.

Next I’m sure you’ll be arguing that milk should come from 100% contented cows that only feed on the best luscious green pastures and everyone should bear the burden of the resultant increased costs because the cows will be having a better life and it makes you feel better.

Dare I ask if you eat meat or are you vegetarian / vegan?

@ Jonathon Reynolds

If you can’t see that legal standards for factory farming in this country are laughable, than I don’t see what chance there is for you to care about the torture these animals are put through. Just because something is stamped LEGAL – does that make it right? People do have the ability to think for themselves and to not just rely on the ‘law’ and the RSPCA to tell them what’s morally okay.

If you aren’t willing to pay the real price for eggs, don’t buy eggs at all! Simple as that! By ‘real price’ I mean the cost of eggs produced under natural and humane conditions. Just because factory farming has convinced Aussie society that a carton of eggs should cost $2, doesn’t make it right!

I find the sarcasm offensive. However, you’re 100% correct, that’s exactly what I’d want for dairy cows and once again, if you aren’t willing to pay the real cost for milk, don’t buy milk at all! LOL!

I’d like to see how appetising you’d find the milk and eggs you’re consuming if you had the sickly, diseased and miserable animals who’d produced them right in front of you!

ant 11:14 pm 09 Aug 08

$7 for free range eggs?! Never! They must be boutique organic truffle-fed eggs. Mother Nature’s often flog off free range eggs that are nearing their best-by date for like $2 a box (not giant ones however). I got some of those 2 weeks ago and just finished them today. Supermarkets have lots of free range and barn raised options that don’t cost $7, and many fruit and veg places sell local free range eggs. Even the Groggery at Oaks Estate sells eggs from Burra (but not for $7).

josh 9:08 pm 09 Aug 08

It is necessary in order to keep the price of eggs low. Free range eggs cost upwards of $7 for the large ones but only half that for the battery ones.

i still can’t fathom how people think $3 more for a dozen eggs is seriously a lot of money.. how much did that slab of scotch fillet set you back? or that coffee? (let alone, as mentioned, vices like cigarettes or alcohol)

maybe i’m biased (having money, and enjoying good eggs), but i feel if you can’t eat them responsibly, don’t eat them at all. and seriously, good eggs taste a world better than watery, runny battery eggs.

grmbl. people stating that eggs are being a staple source of nutrition too – i don’t have numbers to necessarily back myself up, but i’ll et my bottom dollar that a ‘better’ egg will be more nutricious than a watery batter egg any day. so on a dollar per nutrition unit, they’d be much more equivalent than simply the dollar per dozen eggs.

eggs for dinner? i think so 🙂

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