The Western Australian Government has called for a 10-year phase-out of conventional cages for egg-laying hens in its submission to the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry.
Public consultation on the draft national standards closed, with revised welfare standards documents to be developed following review of the more than 165,000 submissions received.
The WA Government’s submission also recommends a reduction in stocking densities for broiler chickens to 38 kilograms per square metre, and linking stocking density to performance on welfare.
The submission also recommends new minimum standards to ensure any new cages are enriched or furnished.
The recommendations are based on a WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development review of scientific literature on the welfare of laying hens kept in cages, and stocking densities for meat chickens.
The review concluded that poultry welfare outcomes could be improved by using housing systems other than conventional cages, and by reducing stocking densities. The findings were peer reviewed by Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan has also consulted extensively with industry and animal welfare groups since the release of the draft standards, including visits to farms with conventional cages, furnished cages, and barn and free range hens.
Source: WA Government