Battery eggs ban in 5 years

Cruel cages will be ditched

By Mike Swain, Science Editor 10/11/2007
The Mirror

Eggs laid by battery hens crammed into tiny cages will be banned by 2012.

Compassion in World Farming, which has campaigned tirelessly to stop the cruel practice involving 20million chickens, was delighted with the EU's decision to outlaw it.

Its chief executive Phil Lymbery said: "Keeping hens in battery cages is simply one of the cruellest of modern farming practices."

It had been feared the EU ruling to phase out the cages - no bigger than an A4 piece of paper - would be delayed amid objections from Eastern Europe, France and Spain.

But Farming Minister Lord Rooker told an industry conference that battery egg production would be banned in Britain.

Mr Lymbery said: "British consumers don't want eggs from battery cages, as seen by the growing numbers spending more on free range eggs and the Government is supporting that view."

The average Briton eats 172 eggs a year and the industry is worth £550million.

Around 63 per cent of eggs sold come from battery cages. But Marks & Spencer no longer stocks eggs laid by battery hens. Morrisons will stop selling them by 2010 and Sainsbury's by 2012. Tesco and Asda have not yet made a firm commitment.

The Environment Department yesterday confirmed the decision to ban battery farming. Hens will instead get "enriched" larger cages with nesting boxes and a perch.

Defra said: "UK law stipulates that conventional cages for laying hens will be banned from 2012, in line with the EU directive and there are no plans to change that.

"We recognise the concerns of the industry and we will work closely with them to ensure that the practicalities of complying with this ban are dealt with."

Mr Lymbery said: "The Government is leading the way in - animal welfare."

The Egg Information Service said producers would be happy as long as other EU countries kept to the ban. It added: "All we are asking for is a level playing field."


We eat 26million eggs in the UK every day.

To be called free range birds must have continual access to the outdoors.

Sainsbury's sells about 450million free range eggs a year.