A parliamentary select committee in New Zealand is calling for a tightening up of the animal welfare code for layer hens, which came into effect last year. It wants the code revised to set a fixed date for phasing out the battery cages currently used for most of New Zealand’s egg production.
The Regulations Review Committee’s recommendations to the government follow its investigation into a complaint from the Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network.
The network objected to the decision by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Council, which drew up the code to allow the continued use of cages that do not fully comply with animal welfare laws.
NAWAC said at the time that there was not enough evidence to show that new generation enriched cages or alternative systems such as raising hens in barns would consistently improve animal welfare conditions for hens.
It decided not to make a final decision on whether the current cages should continue to be used, modified or phased out until 2009, when it will review all the research information available.
The executive director of the Egg Producers Federation, Michael Brooks, says he will expect to be consulted if there are moves to change the layer hen code.
In the meantime Brooks says egg producers want the Animal Welfare Advisory Council to get on with setting up the research committee it is planning to investigate alternative production systems.