Stuck in a cage: Why you should choose wisely

Animals Animal Welfare Hens Posted May 12, 2021
Around half of Australia’s hens are still confined to cruel battery cages, making cage eggs a very real animal welfare issue. Hens in battery cages can’t move freely, stretch, flap their wings or lay their eggs in a nest!

Cage eggs can often end up in the food we consume when out at our favourite restaurants. By using Choose Wisely, an online directory that makes it easy to find cafés and restaurants that are putting higher welfare food on the menu, you can help encourage an end to outdated, battery cage production systems for hens.

By using Choose Wisely before you eat out, you can find out which restaurants and cafes near you are serving cage-free eggs, with some also serving higher welfare chicken or pork too. Choose Wisely is easy to use too! Just add your location and you can find a cage-free egg establishment.

One location that our animal advocate and RSPCA Queensland Ambassador Rachel Moore visited, was a café called Yolk, which serves free-range eggs and other higher welfare food.

Choose Wisely is proud to celebrate eating spots that serve higher welfare food. So, if you have a business or know a business that is taking the right steps for better farm animal welfare, we want to know!

But where do cage eggs even come from?

Cage eggs come from hens that are housed in battery cages. Hens in these systems have a miserable existence as a result of restricted movement, lack of exercise, uncomfortable wire flooring, and stress - they’re unable to exhibit their natural behaviours.

Hens need to be able to perch, nest, forage, dustbathe and stretch. These needs are not met when hens are stuck in battery cages, this is why the RSPCA are campaigning for an end to battery cages.

Barn-laid or cage-free eggs come from hens housed in a large barn or shed where they are able to move around, stretch, flap their feathers and socialise. Barn hens also have the freedom to lay their eggs in a nest and some will even have access to perches and litter for dustbathing. The most important factor here though is they are not confined to battery cages.

Free-range eggs come from hens that are able to go outside during the day. Conditions on free-range farms do vary. An example of a good free-range farm is one that allows hens access to a well-spaced outdoor area, which includes shade and protection from predators.

RSPCA Approved eggs come from hens that are raised according to the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standard. The birds are raised in a higher welfare indoor environment and may also have access to the outdoors, with plenty of shade, protection and things to do. RSPCA Approved farms are visited regularly by RSPCA Assessors to make sure the standards are being met and there’s always a focus on providing for the hen’s behavioural and physical wellbeing.

Your choices at home and when dining out can help make a better world for hens into the future!

Sophie Oxford
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