The Road to Cage Free

With barren battery cages banned in Europe, we are now redoubling our commitment to end all cage systems for farm animals. Two out of three farmed animals worldwide are kept in factory farms. A couple of recent news reports reminded me of just how vulnerable animals can be in factory farms.

In Victoria, Australia, 700,000 chickens, ranging in age from less than one week to not more than six weeks, were abandoned without food by Tip Top Poultry.  The Victorian Department of Primary Industries had to intervene with emergency supplies of food.  Reports suggest the company is likely to be charged with animal cruelty. 

In Turlock, California, 50,000 laying hens in battery cages were left without feed for two weeks.  About one-third died from starvation. Most of the remaining hens were euthanised by the local government authority, Stanislaus Animal Services Agency. The company involved faces prosecution. Some 4,460 hens were rescued in what is hailed by Animal Place as California’s largest farm animal rescue.

The link between these two incidents in Australia and the United States is that both firms were deep in financial trouble. They went bust in part because they could no longer afford increasing feed costs.

Factory farming is something no one can afford. It means animal cruelty, environmental damage and unhealthy products for us to eat, while denying vital resources to feed those who suffer from starvation. As our important report, Eating the Planet, showed you do not need factory farming to feed the world’s population. These are the reasons why we must end factory farming. And this is why I celebrate the European ban on barren battery cages as a step down the road toward cage free farming.

One of the positive effects of the European ban is the increasing demand for non-caged eggs in supermarkets and other businesses. Recent figures from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK show that nearly one in two eggs bought at the end of 2011 came from hens kept free range (45%), with barn and organic eggs combined (7%).

Compassion is committed to a whole food system which is kind to animals, honestly labelled and cares for the environment and consumer health. Clearly, much remains to be done. I know I can count on you, and our increasing ranks of supporters throughout the world, to work toward the day when we can celebrate all farm animals being free from cages and confinement.

Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.