Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Animal rights organisation SAFE will deliver their 33,000 signature-strong petition to Parliament on March 29 to associate minister of agriculture Meka Whaitiri, calling for an end to the caging of hens across New Zealand.
The petition seeks to ban the use of colony cages. While battery cages were banned on January 1 this year, colony cages remain legal, despite being just as restrictive. Both types of cages breach the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The petition will close to signatures at 11.59pm on March 28.
SAFE is Aotearoa’s leading animal rights organisation. They want to create a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected.
Colony cages are either already banned or are being actively phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic and the Walloon region of Belgium. In the USA, nine states have banned the sale and production of cage eggs.
In 2021, the EU Commission announced plans to ban the caging of farmed animals by 2027. A move that will free over 300 million animals from cages across the EU.
In 2014 and 2017, the NZ Labour Party made commitments to end intensive farming, including banning the caging of hens. No action has yet been taken by the current government.
In 2021, more than 250 New Zealand vets signed SAFE’s open letter to the minister of animal agriculture, calling for a ban on the caging of hens in Aotearoa.
That year, a whistleblower from the egg industry spoke out about animal cruelty at a chicken farm in Whangarei.
A 60-year-old poultry company called Northern Eggs operates the facility, which was using battery cages.
Battery cages are widely used within the egg industry but have come under fire due to animal welfare concerns. The cages significantly restrict movement, often to the point where a hen cannot stretch her wings fully.
This can result in bone fractures and osteoporosis, increased risk of disease, and death, research says.