Barren battery cages: the key terms, explained
You may already be aware that we have been worried about the welfare and treatment of Australian layers in battery cages for some time.
We’ve explained how 2021 could be the year that we finally succeed.
In the weeks and months to come, we’ll continue to push for to be done with barren battery cages.
We know that Australians care a lot about animal welfare. They want to end battery cages and buy food with higher welfare standards. What do these terms mean, and why is our focus on cells? In the coming months, you will hear more and more about these key terms.
The animals are important first! Layer hens are chickens bred for egg-laying. They’re a different breed than chickens that produce food. The color of the hens is brown with a reddish comb.
To ensure the welfare of these intelligent, curious, and quirky creatures, they must be able to express normal behaviors like nesting, perching, and food foraging.
A battery cage is an egg-laying cage made of barren wire. Each cage is about 40cm high and contains 4-7 hens. Each hen has less space per hen than an A4 sheet of paper. They stand on the floor day and night. These cages are stacked in sheds, which can hold up to 100,000 birds. The cages are called “battery cages” because they look like battery cells.
They are called barren battery cages because they are just that: barren. These cages are a place of extreme confinement, a place where hens can’t perch, nest, or forage.
Some people may mention conventional wire cages. The egg industry uses the term ‘conventional’ cell to describe small, barren cages made of wire. The regulations for empty battery cages were altered in the early 2000s to give each layer hen an extra 100 square centimeters. That’s the same size as an iPhone. The egg industry rebranded these cages to be ‘conventional.’ However, a conventional cell is no better than a barren cage and is equally bad for the welfare of the hens.
A furnished cage or enhanced cage is a cage with features that encourage hens’ natural behavior, such as a porch area, nesting area, scratch pad, and more space for each bird. Australia doesn’t use them on a large scale. Although they offer some advantages over the more crowded, barren battery cages, the RSPCA feels that a cage-free system can best meet the welfare and needs of layer hens.
Cagelessor Barn-laid Systems consist of large sheds in which birds can freely move and lay eggs.
A free-range system allows hens to roam freely during the day. To keep the hens safe from predators, a large number of free-range chickens are kept inside sheds or barns at night.
What about the actual eggs? A shelled egg or whole egg is a whole egg that’s sold in its original state. It can be found in supermarkets or restaurants. It is important to differentiate eggs from egg ingredients such as baked goods, sauces, and ready-made dishes.
We have the opportunity, once every 20 years, to end barren battery cages. You can help by putting an end to empty battery cages and helping to send a signal that you want to bid farewell to battery cages.