Laying hens are perhaps the most desecrated animals on earth. Trapped for life in intolerably small confinement, their lives are not worth living by anyone’s standard.
There was however, a glimmer of hope for them in September 2018 when the Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) proposed a draft Chapter for hen welfare globally that highlighted the importance of hens being able to carry out their core natural behaviours. Scientifically proven to be vital to their welfare, these behaviours included the ability to lay their eggs in a nest, to forage, perch and dust-bath. If passed, this draft Chapter would have made barren battery cages inconsistent with OIE standards for laying hens.
However, many countries, including South Africa, vociferously objected to this draft.
Now, a new version of the draft Chapter has been prepared and all OIE countries are invited to submit written comments for consideration at an OIE meeting in February 2020.
As representative for Compassion in World Farming in South Africa, I have written to South Africa’s representative at the OIE, Dr Botlhe (Mike) Modisane, Chief Director for Animal Production and Health at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.