The era of the battery cage in South Africa is ending


One knows the era of the battery cage is dead when the South African Poultry Association’s own mouthpiece calls on its readers and members to heed the call to go Cage-Free!

The March 2017 issue of Poultry Bulletin, published by the South Africa Poultry Association (SAPA), carries a huge spread titled ‘The Cage Free Revolution’ and warns egg farmers that “the cage-free revolution is moving rapidly through the world and the South African egg industry should make sure that they are prepared to accommodate the change”.

Ironically, in 2014 SAPA’s CEO Kevin Lovell sent an email to Animal Voice in response to one of our many appeals and petitions for a phase-out of battery eggs. In the email, he stated:

“When more consumers can afford to spend more on their food, then more consumers will exercise their discretion to buy in terms of their consciences rather than their pocket. I also hope that your readers will accept that there is more than one way to assess welfare. Current science cannot show that birds kept in conventional cages suffer any measurable stress factors.”

Now, Poultry Bulletin advises the farmers of the 24 million laying hens still trapped in cages that “scientific research has demonstrated that conventional cage systems deny birds the opportunity to exhibit a number of key behaviours which are fundamental to their welfare, resulting in increased levels of frustration, pain and stress.  These important behaviours include the opportunity to build a nest, preen, stretch and flap their wings, perch and dust-bathe.”

“It is clear,” Poultry Bulletin states, “that no amount of improved management can compensate for the welfare issues inherent in the system. Scientifically, [egg]producers are on shaky ground if we try to defend our production system as humane.”

The Poultry Bulletin article concludes: “Hen welfare is rapidly becoming a ‘horizon issue’ for South African producers – an issue which could have profound consequences for producers if we do not recognise it, evaluate it and respond to it, effectively, in time. The speed with which major US and UK corporations have announced their commitment to cage-free production has demonstrated how quickly a shift can be imposed on an industry that has not paid enough attention to the external landscape.”

To Pick n Pay, Shoprite Checkers, Spar and all the other supermarkets which have doggedly resisted Animal Voice’s scientifically substantiated call to go cage-free: adapt or die! The cage-free revolution is here!

Featured image credit flowcomm, CC BY 2.0

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Animal Voice is the umbrella organization for humane education and the official representative of Compassion in World Farming in South Africa. We work towards the adoption of a humane, non-violent, anti-cruelty approach to the treatment of animals consonant with respect for and promotion of all the rights set out in the South African Constitution. We do this through education programs targeted at the youth, adults, educators, policy makers, government, industry and the broader public, and through various advocacy campaigns, which aim to establish and sustain best practices across a range of animal use industries, and with the natural world at large Click to see author's profile.

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