National Farm Animal Care Council Criticized for Allowing Cage Confinement of Laying Hens

MONTREAL, QUEBEC — (Marketwired) — 06/30/16 — The National Farm Animal Care Council’s new draft egg industry Code of Practice fails to end the use of all cage confinement for laying hens, flouting months of consistent corporate commitments to source 100 percent cage-free eggs in company supply chains. Humane Society International/Canada is criticizing the Code of Practice, and urges the code development committee to responsibly reflect the future of its industry to egg producers in the final Code.

Sayara Thurston, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, stated: “The National Farm Animal Care Council’s committee has ignored an opportunity to move the Canadian egg industry away from the widely-rejected practice of confining animals in cages for their entire lives. Intensive confinement systems have no place in 21st century agriculture, and allowing egg producers to invest in out-dated cage systems that will soon be rendered obsolete by market pressure is an irresponsible proposal that we urge the NFACC committee to reconsider. The time is right for Canada to move to a completely cage-free egg industry.”

The draft Code of Practice, if adopted by the committee after a 60-day public consultation, would allow the indefinite use of cage systems that offer hens less than double the space of a standard battery cage. This proposal flies in the face of commitments to exclusively source eggs from cage-free systems from Canada’s largest food companies. The list of retailers that have pledged to source 100 percent cage-free eggs by or before 2025 includes Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Tim Hortons, A&W, McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, and many more.

The majority of egg laying hens in Canada spend their entire lives confined in cramped, wire cages so small that they will never be able to fully stretch their wings. Cage-free environments offer hens the chance to engage in many of their natural behaviours, including walking freely, perching, and laying their eggs in a nest.