SAFE has published an open letter calling on the Agriculture Minister to ban colony cages.
Over 250 New Zealand veterinary professionals have put their name to the letter, warning the Minister that colony cages do not meet the welfare needs of hens and are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
CEO Debra Ashton said SAFE has been raising the need for a ban with the Government for many years, but the time for action is long overdue.
"Public opinion, big businesses and now New Zealand’s veterinary community all object to the caging of hens," said Ashton.
"It's time for the Agriculture Minister to demonstrate leadership by banning colony cage systems."
Globally, there have been significant shifts away from colony cages. The European Commission plans to ban the caging of all animals throughout the European Union by 2027. Here, all major supermarkets in New Zealand will phase out the sale of cage eggs as early as 2024.
The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that animals have the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. With up to 80 hens crammed in each cage, hens cannot move freely or stretch their wings, forage for food, nest, or dust bathe.
"Right now, over 1.2 million hens are confined in colony cages which according to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 should be illegal. The Government needs to listen to the veterinary advice and align with international standards."
"Colony cages clearly breach the Act and are incompatible with the welfare needs of hens. It’s time for them to go."