8 October 2021 – Half of all laying hens in the EU, an incredible 180 million animals, are still caged. This year's World Egg Day on 8 October is therefore marked by an overwhelming success for European farm animal welfare: The EU Commission will present a legislative proposal for the end of cage-rearing by 2023. The aim is to have a ban in place by 2027. The governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden have already supported the Commission´s initiative to revise EU legislation. With this, the efforts of global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS and other NGOs were successful: They contributed massively to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) #EndTheCageAge, which had been signed by 1.4 million EU citizens.
Whether in biscuits, pasta or mayonnaise – many processed foods contain eggs. Often these eggs come from laying hens kept in cages. Although the majority of consumers are opposed to battery farming and almost all retailers have removed fresh cage eggs from their shelves, Europeans are unknowingly still eating eggs produced in cages. A binding labelling for processed food at EU level is still lacking. Consumers therefore cannot check the farming conditions they support when buying certain products. FOUR PAWS calls for a compulsory declaration on the origin of eggs used in processed foods all across the EU.
A cracking good direction
“The great commitment of Europeans cannot be appreciated enough. They have given a very clear mandate to politicians to finally put an end to animal cruelty in cages. It is now important that more Member States speak out in favour of ending the cage age. The time of cage farming is over and the future is cage free.”
Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office (EPO) of FOUR PAWS in Brussels
Killing male chicks is an untackled problem
FOUR PAWS strongly advocates a sustainable solution for another problem: The killing of male chicks of laying breeds immediately after hatching. Around 400 million brother chicks are killed every year in the EU. Although Germany and France both have pledged to end this cruel practice by January 2022, other EU countries still have to follow suit. FOUR PAWS approach to solving the problem is a return to dual-purpose breeds. This means that chickens are not raised purely for either meat or egg production, as has predominantly been the case in recent decades. "This would provide a lasting solution to the problem that the male chicks of laying breeds are a mere waste product. And besides, the animals would be healthier. Because a chicken is not made to lay us an absurd number of eggs as a turbo-chicken or to grow unnaturally fast into a mountain of meat. Agricultural systems must adapt to the physical and mental needs of animals, not the other way around," says Sultana.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org