A GROUND-BREAKING undercover investigation into the reality of so-called enriched cages for egg-laying hens due to be introduced in 2012 has been carried out by animal group Viva!.
Europe's largest campaigning vegetarian and vegan group obtained footage from a massive 'enriched' cage system that Noble Foods (the same people behind 'Happy Eggs') use for their cheaper eggs - with shocking results.
One shed alone had at least 120,000 hens in it (the farm half a million birds) - the cages stacked up to the ceiling, with see-through walkways bisecting the shed. Viva! also filmed many birds with deformed beaks and one bird that had to be removed because she was being bullied by the other hens because of this unnatural environment. The battery cage is being banned across the EU in 2012, and Enriched Cages such as these are going to replace it.
Viva! campaigns director, Justin Kerswell, says: “To call these cages enriched is a sick joke. Hard fought welfare improvements are to be welcomed, but this is a baby step so slight that it's almost a step backwards. Hens are still crammed into cages; without access to range or sunshine. Almost all that is natural to them is denied. Viva!'s footage shows how these sentient, intelligent animals are still suffering because of the stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap mentality. These futuristic, nightmarish mega-farms are set to spring up across Britain. Come the EU-wide ban in 2012 the battery cage may appear to be dead, but it seems that the mantra by manufacturers of cheap eggs is 'long live the battery cage'! Slight enrichment is not enough to call this anything other than one of the worst examples of factory farming."
This investigation was the third in a series carried out by Viva! investigators into various stages of egg production. The group says that cruelty and suffering was also exposed at two UK hatcheries and The Happy Egg Company - as part of the group's Cracked campaign. For more information about the Cracked campaign and the view all the investigation footage, including of the enriched cages, visit www.viva.org.uk/cracked