RSPCA joint message to egg industry: time to focus on animal welfare and a sustainable future.
The review of the standards that govern how poultry are raised in Australia is an opportunity, which comes only once every 15 years, to align farming methods with the latest available knowledge and scientific research.
The Victorian Government’s independent, comprehensive scientific study on the welfare effects of farming poultry is of great importance.
The review states that the current battery cage system ” dominates the local industry and prevents birds from performing essential movements for good health. This includes walking, wing stretching, and roosting. It also denies birds their ability to express their behavior needs to nest, forage, and dust-bathe due to an inherent shortage of resources.
The report goes on to say that ” caged environments are associated with an increased mortality rate, a higher level of physiological stress, and a compromised immune system.”
Battery cages are cruel. It is clear from the evidence and science that conventional battery cage systems are brutal and inhumane.
What does the community say?
In many developed countries, battery cages have been banned as a result of the science of animal welfare and community expectations.
In Australia, most consumers choose cage-free eggs over caged egg options in the supermarket.
Some of our largest food brands, both in Australia and abroad, are also going cage-free. These include Grill’d Healthy Burgers (McDonald’s), Hungry Jacks’ Subway, Arnott’s, and Mars.
The question then is, which direction will the egg industry take? The trajectory of welfare improvement in primary production is a good example.
The other option is to try to keep up only when the patience of the domestic or international customers has run out. This is what the Australian wool, sheep meat, and mulesing industries are doing now.
Another way to help individual producers adapt is to plan and anticipate the future.
In 2017, good welfare is good for business. Let’s not focus on opinions; instead, let’s look at the facts: the welfare of birds and the welfare of the industry as a whole.