Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK


World: Europe

Battery hen cages to be outlawed

Welfare groups condemn battery farming as cruel

European Union farm ministers have agreed to outlaw battery hen cages from 2012.

Ministers from the 15 EU countries agreed the move at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday,.

There are still sharp disagreements on the issue, but an increasing number of British farmers are already choosing to give hens their freedom.

Space increase

Ministers arriving for the meeting were faced by protesters from welfare groups, sensing a real chance to end what they claim is the cruel practice of battery farming.


[ image: These hens are free to roam]
These hens are free to roam
Germany's Farm Minister Karl-Heinz Funke told a news conference: "Battery cages as we know them will be banned entirely.

"Battery hens have been singled out for criticism. I'm sure consumers will support this decision."

Under the agreement, the maximum amount of space allocated per hen in existing cages in EU countries will be increased from 450 to 550 square centimetres from 2003.

This will mean reducing the number of hens in a normal cage from five to four. The measures will be reviewed in 2005.

Also, from 2003 it will be forbidden to introduce new cages that are not "enriched cages".

These have a minimum of 750 square centimetres per hen, and must be equipped with better ventilation and other welfare features. All cages must conform to the new standards from 2012.

'Normal life'

Speaking about battery farming, Caroline Le Suer, from the RSPCA, said: "In this system the birds are very restricted, unable to form normal behaviours, and there's now substantial evidence that this actually causes harm to the health of the birds.

"In the UK alone, over 80% of the birds are kept in battery cages."

With many consumers now prepared to pay a bit more for free range eggs, an increasing number of British farmers are already choosing to do away with battery cages.


[ image: Many consumers refuse to buy eggs from battery farms]
Many consumers refuse to buy eggs from battery farms
Free range does not necessarily mean a few hens scratching around in a farmyard. Some free range sheds can contain around 12,000 birds, but they are free to go outside whenever they like.

A battery farm shed would contain three or four times the number of hens.

Free range farmer Tim Howlett said: "We have designed here a shed that is commercially viable but at the same time incorporates all the freedoms that are required for chickens to live a normal life.

"They can come and go out of the shed as they please, they have dust bathe areas inside the shed, nest boxes, roosting, and permanent access to water and food."





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

23 Nov 98 | UK Politics
'Cruel' battery hen farming attacked

11 Mar 98 | UK
Farm practices 'threaten health'

21 Jan 98 | UK
Shoppers 'duped' in egg con





Internet Links


Compassion in World Farming

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

European Union

RSPCA


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift