The introduction of the battery cage ban in January 2012 was widely publicised,
and heralded as an end to hens in cages throughout Europe. But it also created a
misconception that has continued with the widely held view that ALL laying hens in
the UK are now either free range or barn birds.
Another little known fact is that
commercial laying hens are sent to slaughter at
around 78 weeks of age when their working life draws to a close … unless they are
amongst the few lucky enough to find themselves in crates bound for the BHWT
rather than on a haulier’s lorry bound for the processing plant.
The higher welfare cages that replaced the barren battery system are referred to
as colony or enriched cages. As most of you will know, the system allows hens
greater space to move within a large cage that typically holds around 80 hens.
Scratch mats and perches are provided as are small nesting areas.
Colony egg producers have invested heavily in the industry and tend to be large
units with strict bio security and very limited public access. We have, however,
successfully forged links with a number of these farms, and we always give priority
to hens from colony cages.