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The use of battery cages raises serious ethical concerns. In 2012 the Animal Welfare Board of India advised state governments to issue directives to prohibit the use of battery cages in egg production, but no real effort has been made to permanently ban the practice in India.
What are battery cages and why are they wrong?
Battery cages are barren wire enclosures placed side by side used to confine hens raised for eggs. The cages typically hold five to 10 hens, each bird with floor space smaller than a standard A4 sheet of paper. The cramped conditions prevent hens from nesting, fully spreading their wings, or doing much else that is natural to them. Today about 30–40 crore hens in India languish in these cages.
Confined in battery cages, hens are unable to dustbathe, perch, forage, explore, and engage in other behaviours scientific evidence has proved necessary for their health and well-being. The conditions promote chronic stress that often leads to feather pecking and even cannibalism. To reduce the severity of injuries from this behaviour, the egg industry uses “beak trimming.” At the hatchery, chicks have the tips of their beaks cut off, generally without anaesthetics. This procedure causes the birds extreme pain and suffering.
How do battery cages violate the law?
According to Section 11(1)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, anyone who “keeps or confines any animal in any cage or other receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement” is punishable by fine for a first offence and by fine and possible imprisonment for a subsequent offence. Since space in battery cages is extremely limited, with almost no room for movement, keeping hens in such cages violates the law.
Urge the authorities to ban battery cages today!