Here’s some information to help you answer the questions in this survey to most help hens.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (the state government body heading up the national Poultry Code Review) is also running a separate NSW community consultation. Both are looking for views of the public on the current standards and guidelines for farming of poultry in Australia. So right now we have an important opportunity to help free laying hens from cages by urging changes to the standards.
One option for feedback in NSW is an online survey. It’s crucial for hens that caring residents of NSW complete this survey and make it clear that all cages have to go in Australia. However, the wording of some of the questions in this survey could be confusing. And a fundamental problem is that the survey does not give the option of ‘no cages’ — only phasing out conventional (battery) cages. This could leave room for allowing furnished or enriched cages, which give hens barely any more space, and some minimal requirements like perches.
So, below we have provided some information and suggestions to help you answer the survey questions in the way that will help get the best outcome for hens.
You can access the NSW DPI survey by clicking here.
As someone who cares about hens, simply answer the questions as best you can. Then in particular look out for these questions:
Question 4: “Which of these options is your first preference?"
Tick the 4th box down, which asks for a phasing out of conventional (battery) cages for layer hens. As noted above, this is inadequate in itself, but you’ll have a chance to comment on that issue in the last question.
You’ll see you can actually tick more than one box. Feel free to also select the 5th (about stocking density) and 7th options, or you can select these in the next question.
Question 5: “Which of these options is your second preference?"
If you only selected the 4th option (to ban conventional cages) in question 4, then tick the 5th (to give chickens more space) and 7th (to limit surgical mutilations) boxes here. If you have selected the 4th, 5th and 7th options in question 4, then just tick these same options again for this question.
Reducing stocking densities (5th option) would improve welfare outcomes for around 650 million chickens raised for meat and millions of egg-laying hens because they would have relatively more space to move, allowing for more exercise and reduced stress levels. The benefits of animals suffering fewer surgical mutilations (7th option) are probably self-evident.
Question 12: “Reforms to animal welfare standards could have impacts on the supply of eggs. How concerned are you about potential reductions in egg supply associated with the welfare reforms?"
Question 13: “Reforms to animal welfare standards could have impacts on biosecurity and animal health issues such as Avian Influenza (i.e. Bird Flu). How concerned are you about potential increased threats to biosecurity and animal health associated with the welfare reforms?"
Question 14: “Reforms to animal welfare standards could have impacts on the cost of production of eggs and or poultry products. How concerned are you about potential impacts on jobs and businesses associated with the welfare reforms?"
Questions 12, 13 and 14 are ‘leading’ questions, likely designed to create fear and uncertainty among the community about a cage-free future. For example, well-run free range enterprises have not contributed to greater disease risk (biosecurity): indeed in Australia a leading veterinary consultant has reported that avian flu outbreaks have most often originated in intensive cage systems.
And industries of all kinds must adjust to new systems and the views of the community, but there should be no assumption that this will impact on jobs: free range facilities and husbandry methods usually require a higher staffing ratio and it is more likely that there will be more jobs, not fewer, contributing to regional economies when cages are phased out.
For these questions, if it reflects your views, the answer most helpful to hens is ‘Not at all concerned’.
This is an open text field in which you can explain that you want all cages banned in Australian egg production, not only barren battery cages, and do not support any other cages like furnished or enriched cages.
If you would like further information, you can find out more about how the current Poultry Code fails animals like hens in our detailed guide.
And if you haven’t already, you can have a say in the national consultation until 26 February 2018.