New Zealand proposes changes to layer welfare code
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) in New Zealand is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012.
The most significant effect of the Code is that it requires battery cages to be phased out by 31 December 2022. This was to be managed in three transition stages. While the final phase-out date has not changed, the potential for severe price increases has highlighted the need to move each of the transition steps back by two years.
The amended transition steps within the ten year period are as follows:
Cages installed before 31 December 1999 to be replaced by 31 December 2018; Cages installed before 31 December 2001 to be replaced by 31 December 2020.
Dr John Hellström, Chair of NAWAC, says while the industry will be cage-free by 31 December 2022, an independent assessment suggests a significant disruption in the supply of eggs is almost inevitable should the initial transition step by 31 December 2016 remain.
“In the short term it would mean eggs are less affordable, especially for low-income consumers for whom eggs represent an important source of high-quality protein.
“NAWAC is committed to getting layer hens out of battery cages. What’s changing are the steps farmers take to get there. The changes will make it easier for farmers to adopt the new housing systems while minimising market disruptions.
“Other proposed changes will also help farmers meet the transition dates. These involve stocking density in barns and fitting of claw-shortening devices in cages.
“We’ve had a lot of interest on this issue, so it is important that NAWAC gets the changes out to the public for feedback. Once all feedback is considered NAWAC will provide advice to the Minister for Primary Industries.”
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