New European Union regulations regarding the treatment of egg laying hens go into effect today, leading some farmers to worry about competition from farmers who ignore the laws.
The laws were passed over a decade ago, giving European farmers ample time to prepare and reform their farming practices. The law bans conventional cages for hens, requiring that birds be given room to spread their wings and move around. The new cages add 200-cm2 cage area.
British egg producers have switched to the new cages, spending almost half a billion pounds in the process. Many farmers and businesses are afraid, however, that the egg markets will soon be flooded by cheaper continental exports that do not follow the changed laws.
The threat of competition is a valid one. Currently, about 25 percent of European egg production use currently illegal battery cages.
Animal rights activists in France recently released video footage of one of the leading French egg producers using illegal cages and mistreating animals. The farm, which has not yet been named, severely mistreated their animals. According to one activist, “Many of the birds were featherless and had damaged beaks. We do not think the new laws will force these farmers to abandon these cages.”
Eight other European countries have told EU officials that their farmers are not prepared to implement these new laws. Included in that list are Italy, Poland, Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer