Chickens fall foul of O'Farrell government - backward step for welfare of hens

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The O’Farrell Government has significantly reduced animal welfare protections for chickens kept for egg production – a move that that will be highly detrimental to the welfare of hens across the state.

Egg-laying hens being transported have now been exempted from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation – with protections no longer applying to fowl being “carried” or “conveyed”.

The result means numerous protections afforded to egg-laying hens in transit have now been removed by the O’Farrell Government. These protections include:

• the fowl have access to at least 2 independent drinking points, or to a water trough the length of which allows at least 10 centimetres for each fowl in the cage;
• the cage floor provides support for the forward pointing toes of all fowl in the cage;
• the height of the cage and the height and width of the cage doors comply with certain dimension requirements;
• maximum stocking densities.

The O’Farrell government has introduced new Transport Standards to deal with the transportation of fowl in place of the previous protections.

While these new standards do provide a broad range of protections for the transportation of animals classified as “livestock” – protections previous provided to chickens that lay eggs are either not dealt with in the new Transport standards or are dealt with inadequately.

In particular, for layer hens confined to boxes or cages during transport, there are no specific requirements as to the dimensions of the cage or cage doors, requirements for cage flooring, stocking densities, food / water requirements or requirements as to multi-layered systems.

“The actions of the O’Farrell Government represent a significant step backward for the welfare of chickens that lay eggs,” Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley said.

“The reduction in protections could lead to these chickens being transported in totally unsuitable conditions – putting their health and welfare in jeopardy.

“These hens deserve to be treated in a humane and respectful fashion when being transported.

“The O’Farrell Government needs to immediately reverse these changes and restore the protections for all layer hens being transported across the state.”