27 Jun 2012

New hen welfare code in line internationally - NAWAC

7:16 am on 27 June 2012

A new welfare code for layer hens that is set to be introduced shortly aims to bring New Zealand in line with other countries around the world.

The egg industry was put in the spotlight again this week when protesters objecting to keeping hens in cages targeted a large-scale egg producer near Dunedin.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) says it has finalised the layer hen code, which includes phasing out battery cages for hens, in favour of larger colony cages and free-range or barn-style systems.

NAWAC chair John Hellstrom says that is a clear trend around the world.

Dr Hellstrom says New Zealand "certainly won't be ahead but largely in line, I would say".

"We'll be ahead of the Americans, but Europe has already banned battery cages and although there's been some holdouts, they're largely gone.

He says Australia is looking at different options, and will be moving away from battery cages too.

"That's a little different because it's not a government-imposed requirement; it's essentially an agreement between the industry and the retail chain but they're very interested in what we've been doing here on colony cages too."

NAWAC has also sent a new welfare code for poultry raised for meat to the Government for approval.