People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Urge Jim Fitzpatrick (Minister DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to oppose the extension of a ban on battery cages for hens – not for business or economic reasons, but for the European hens who will be forced to endure five more years of torture should the proposal go through.
DEFRA Minister of State
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR UK
Phone 020 7270 8960
The EU Agricultural Council is meeting on Monday, 22 February, to discuss a proposed delay to the EU-wide 2012 battery cage ban. Poland is seeking to postpone the ban until 2017. This is catastrophic news for hens who are forced to endure hellish conditions in battery cages on farms. PETA is urging Jim Fitzpatrick, Defra Minister of State (who is responsible animal welfare), to stand up and oppose Poland's proposal.
Each year in the EU, approximately 300 million hens are crammed into filthy wire-mesh battery cages that are stacked tier upon tier in huge warehouses. Several birds are crowded into each cage, packed so tightly together that they are unable to spread even one wing. The birds suffer crippling leg injuries from standing on wire-cage floors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until they are killed. Their bones are brittle both from forced inactivity and because the production of eggs leaches calcium from their bodies. Many more hens suffer from painful injuries when they're ripped from their cages, thrown into transport crates and shipped to slaughter. Without even a shred of straw for comfort, all the hen's natural instincts – including nesting, perching, scratching and pecking – are denied. These birds never have any chance to breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, build nests, raise their young or do anything else that is natural and important to them.
The ban will not end all cages for egg-laying hens, because it allows the replacement of existing cages with "enriched cages" which have a little more space and more "facilities" for hens to pursue some natural behaviour. It will end some of the very worst abuses, however.
The UK government has previously stated that it will oppose any postponement of the ban, and we must ensure that it sticks to that position. Worryingly, though, there is a suggestion that the UK may support a new provision that effectively allows some EU countries to keep cages so long as they do not export their eggs to countries which have implemented the ban. This may protect businesses, but it won't protect the tens of millions of caged hens who would continue to endure appalling suffering in countries that don't fully implement the ban.
Thank you for everything you do for animals!
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