Ensuring a 'good life' for layer hens in Australia
Ensuring a 'good life' for layer hens in Australia was the title of the 11th Annual Robert Dixon Animal Welfare Symposium.
"Interest in the way we treat animals that produce our food is under increasing scrutiny. A 2018 landmark national report commissioned by the federal Department of Agriculture found that 95% of Australians view farm animal welfare as a concern, and 91% want some reform to address this. Against this backdrop, changes are being proposed to establish new minimum standards for the care and housing of farmed poultry in Australia, including a proposal to phase out the use of battery cages for layer hens.
There are approximately 21 million layer hens in Australia; around half of these hens are housed in battery cages (also called conventional cages), with the remainder in free range, barn and aviary housing systems. Shifting the egg industry away from current cage systems to cage-free housing, and the potential emergence of furnished or colony cages (which include nest boxes and perches) brings with it significant challenges for producers, consumers and the hens themselves. Not least is how best to protect the health of huge flocks of birds from infectious diseases without compromising the welfare of individual hens. All while satisfying the demand for the 17 million eggs we consume every day.
Join our panel of experts, who bring together a wealth of veterinary health, animal welfare science, regulation and advocacy experience, to discuss what these changes will mean for the future welfare of layer hens in Australia.”