The public doesn’t understand battery cage law with 26 per cent wrongly guessing all battery cages would be banned.  

An RSPCA poll has revealed that 88% of people in England and Wales had not heard about new welfare legislation for hens and almost seven out of ten people (69 per cent) wrongly assumed what it would mean for hen welfare when given a list of options or simply did not know.

Photo: sxc/robby_mA quarter of people (26 per cent) wrongly guessed that all battery cages will be banned in the new year, research also revealed.

From January 1, all farmers in the EU were banned from keeping hens in barren battery cages, however it’s still perfectly legal to use “enriched” battery cages.

According to the research:

  • almost a fifth (18 per cent) wrongly assumed all battery cages would be banned and a further eight per cent wrongly assumed all hens would have to be free-range.
  • almost a quarter (24 per cent) wrongly assumed that all hens will have to spend at least four hours a day outside the cage.
  • one per cent of people wrongly assumed that the new law means farmers will have to provide at least four hours of music for their hens each day.

Alice Clark, senior scientific officer from the RSPCA’s farm animals department said: “Some of the wrong answers, such as farmers having to play their hens music, would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious issue.
“The reality is that a sizeable chunk of the public mistakenly think that hens will no longer be kept in cages and sadly that is not the case.
“The message we want to drive home is that, despite new welfare law, hens will still be kept in cruel cages – if you don’t agree with that make it your new year’s resolution to only buy cage-free eggs.”
Despite increasing sales in cage-free eggs, more than half the eggs the public eat are hidden in food, such as cakes, quiches, pastries and sauces*, which do not legally have to be labelled cage, barn or free-range.
RSPCA research revealed that almost seven out of ten people (69 per cent) think food containing eggs should be required by law to be labelled with the system they came from – caged hens, barn, free-range. In addition, six out of ten people (61 per cent) said they agreed that shops should stop selling cage eggs, or products containing them, even if it meant prices may go up.
It is estimated about 15 million hens will be kept in cages in the UK next year – 222 million hens across Europe*.

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