People For Animals, Humane Society International-India, and Mercy For Animals India Foundation held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi about the plight of hens raised for eggs in cruel battery cages.
A volunteer dressed as a hen was confined in a cage, with no room to move, before a backdrop photo showing rows and rows of actual hens crowded in battery cages. Several volunteers in hen masks engaged the public and held signs reading, ‘End cruelty to 40 crore hens: Ban battery cages’.
Battery cages are barren wire cages placed side by side used to confine hens in the egg industry. In India nearly 40 crore hens languish in these cruel cages, without space to spread their wings or engage in many other natural behaviours, such as nesting, dustbathing, perching, scratching, foraging, and exploring. Scientific evidence has shown that these behaviours are necessary for their health and well-being, but birds raised for eggs in cages are denied them.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, prohibits the confinement of any animal in a manner that does not allow reasonable opportunity for movement. Yet restrictive cages are common in the egg industry.
What’s the alternative?
Cage-free housing systems, such as open barns and tiered aviaries, allow hens to move around and, when fitted with environmental enrichments such as nest boxes and perches, engage in many important natural behaviours.
Several countries around the world have phased out the use of battery cages after recognising their impact on not only animal welfare but food safety and public health. In 1992, Switzerland banned both standard and enriched cages—the first and only country in the world to do so. In 2009, the Belgian government advised a ban on all cage systems for laying hens by 2025. Several U.S. states have also passed legislation to ban cages for hens and the sale of eggs from caged hens, including California, Michigan, and Colorado. And on December 31, 2021, Taiwan became the first country to ban battery cages for laying ducks.
India can also adopt such measures and phase out cages for hens. You can make a difference for hens by signing this petition: