History / Workers' Rights / Environment / Human Health / Agribusiness / Hens / Another Way

There is another way!

Other Countries' Recognition of the rights and welfare of hens:
Battery cages have been banned in Switzerland since 1992 - all hens now have nests and perches. 

The entire European Union (Member nations of the EU include the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, and Sweden) has passed laws declaring that no new battery cages may be installed after 2003 and that by 2013, all hens must have at least 750 sq. cm of floor space, a perch, a nest and litter provide.

Other countries have adopted even stricter welfare guidelines banning debeaking, battery cages, and forced molting practices. For instance, Germany has decided to move much more quickly than the rest of the EU and has banned battery cages from 2007 onwards, six years ahead of the standard. Germany has also decided to go further than the new EU standards by banning "enriched cages" as well, recognizing that these cages are not much more than glorified battery cages that still deny the hens room to spread their wings and exercise. (Enriched cages have slightly more space - about .65 sq. ft. per bird, plus a nest box, perch, and litter).

In June, Germany became the first country in the European Union to enshrine animal rights in its constitution (Non-EU Switzerland did so in 1992).

The United States government, however, has is no way recognized the suffering of battery hens.  To date, there are no federal wßelfare laws in the United States regulating the care and treatment of laying hens. (Davis, Karen, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 1996, p. 77).  Nor are there any federal laws in the United States regulating poultry transport or slaughter (Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, p. 111).

Corporate Recognition of the welfare of hens:
Even corporations such as McDonaldís, Burger King, and Wendy's, have recognized the welfare of hens and the lack of national US welfare laws and have thus adopted their own guidelines which include banning force-molting and restricting debeaking.
The McDonald's Corporation announced on 22 August 2000 that the producers that supply the company with 1.5 billion eggs each year will have to provide 50 percent more space for each caged hen, ban "forced molting," and to restrict debeaking.  The company agreed to implement a system of unannounced audits for all suppliers and a "two strikes and you're out" policy for suppliers that fail audits. (McDonald's USA Animal Welfare Laying Hen Guidelines)

On June 28, 2001 Burger King announced that is will agree to do everything McDonaldís was doing plus give three square inches more to laying hens and require that the birds be able to stand fully upright.  Additionally Burger King will:
Petition the USDA to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act, which goes almost totally unenforced, resulting in animalsí routinely being still conscious as their throats are slit open and their limbs are hacked off.
Begin implementing its standards in Canada immediately, with a pledge to adopt them internationally.
Push the entire industry to continually improve farmed animal welfare practices.
Issue an annual "Farmed Animal Welfare Report," detailing Burger King's progress on farmed animal welfare issues.
On September 6, 2001 Wendy's adopted similar welfare regulations

Does anyone in the U.S. care?

According to a 2000 Zogby poll in the United States, 86.2 percent of respondents said it was unacceptable to confine egg-laying hens in battery cage conditions, and 75.4 percent of respondents found forced-molting unacceptable.

As education about the conditions of egg-laying hens spreads, so will opposition against battery cages!