MICHAEL BERRY Cage-rattling: SAFE animal welfare organisation members protest against battery hen farming.
Battery hen farmers will need about 18 years to change their egg-laying operations to meet the pending welfare code for chickens, the Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand says.
a review of the animal welfare code for egg-laying chickens, expected to be released about mid-year, will change the minimum standards for chickens and get rid of battery farming.
the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee has passed its recommended code to Primary Industries Minister David Carter. Both the industry and committee hope it will be enacted about mid-year. Under the new code, battery cages will be banned. the 46 farms using the system will have to change to either free-range, barn-raised or a new colony system which has larger cages with room for the birds to move around, scratch, nest and perch.
Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks says the change is accepted by the industry, but he hopes the farmers will be given an adequate transition period.
the federation knows the cage system has to be phased out and backs the decision, however the change will not be easy for the farms, which are almost all privately owned, family operations, he says.
An economic analysis commissioned by the Egg Producers Federation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry found the cost to change all the farms would be about $150 million, he says.
“It’s a whole fundamental change to the farming system.” the time needed for farmers to depreciate their existing systems and earn enough to pay for the change will be up to 18 years, he says.
Free-range systems will need about 60 times more land than cage farming to implement, so many farms will need to go to barn or colony, each with their own difficulties to set up, he says.
“When people say it should change tomorrow, it just can’t. It’s much more complicated than that.
“We, as a federation, said cages had to go. the only big argument that remains is how long do these guys have to make an economically viable transition?”
New Zealand has 130 commercial layer farms, of which 84 are a mixture of barn-raised and free-range farms.
– © Fairfax NZ News