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South Africa


Abolish cages for laying hens 2019

Millions of laying hens in South Africa are set to spend the next 20 years in tiny battery cages

with a space allowance the size of a pair of shoe prints – for life.

This follows an in-house resolution passed by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) at its last congress,

to allow a space allowance of just 450 sq cm per hen until 1 January 2039.  

Compassion in World Farming-South Africa (CIWF-SA) believes a 20-year phase-out of conventional cages is outrageous and an imposition of inhumane food on consumers and a breach of consumer trust. CIWF-SA filed an objection to SAPA’s resolution with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) which is currently setting new standards in Agriculture.

This objection was noted at a specially convened meeting for stakeholders arranged by the SABS in Pretoria on 29th October 2019.  Surprisingly, the NSPCA representative at the meeting suggested only a five-year reduction in SAPA’s resolution of a 20-year phase-out of battery cages – from 2039 to 2034.

SAPA’s resolution flaunts voluminous international scientific research proving that the welfare of laying hens is severely compromised by conventional cages. This research shows that hens’ core natural behaviours include laying their eggs in a nest, foraging, perching and dustbathing.  

Hens have powerful drives to perform these behaviours but none of them are possible in conventional cages.  Moreover, the severe restriction of movement in cages leads to high levels of osteoporosis – and so to many battery hens suffering from broken bones.


Video: the Life of a Laying hen

Compassion in World Farming’s South African representative, Louise van der Merwe, comments: “SAPA’s resolution to extend the legitimacy of conventional cages for the next 20 years loses sight of a world that is becoming ever-more aware of the inter-connectedness of all things. No-one wants to eat food that is predicated on suffering. So many big companies, including Walmart, have committed to be cage-free by 2025. We request a total phase-out of cages by 2025 for South Africa’s laying hens too.”

Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor of Compassion in World Farming, says: “We urge South Africa to move away from conventional battery cages much sooner than 2039.  These cages are inhumane and out-dated and should be consigned to the scrapheap of history. There is a strong trend away from cages - many major food companies including McDonald’s are committed to going cage-free on eggs.”

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"Cages are cruel and cause immeasurable suffering to laying hens"  



7th November 2019


See a synopsis of proceedings

at the SABS meeting

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See Open letter to 

Dr Botlhe  Modisane: Chief Director, Animal Production and Health, Department of Agriculture, Forestry

and Fisheries.

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See  Louise van der Merwe (CEO Animal voice and Compassion in World Farming South Africa) 


on Smile904.FM Radio


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