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Indian government urged to ban battery cages for hens

Oct 08, 2013

Swami Agnivesh has decried the egg industry’s inhumane confinement of hens and urges the government to phase out barren battery cages.

New Delhi: The President of World Council of Arya Samaj, Swami Agnivesh, has urged the Minister of Environment and Forests to discontinue the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens in so-called barren ‘battery’ cages in India.

In a two-page letter addressed to  Jayanthi Natarajan, Agnivesh, the social activist who is best known for his work with the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, decries the egg industry’s inhumane confinement of hens and urges the government to phase out barren battery cages:

“An overwhelming majority of hens used in the egg industry are consigned to barren battery cages, which are so small that each bird is given a space no larger than A4 size sheet of paper. The battery cages prevent all forms of natural behaviors, such as nesting, perching and roosting, scratching and foraging, exercising and spreading their wings. I urge the Government of India to ban such a barbaric practice of confining egg laying hens.”

The Animal Welfare Board of India has issued a directive that the practice of confining hens in barren battery cages clearly violates the provisions of Section 11(1) (e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The provisions require that animals confined to cages be provided with reasonable opportunity for movement. Further, the confinement of hens in overcrowded and unhygienic battery cages facilitates the immune suppression in birds, providing a breeding ground for foodborne diseases like Salmonella.

N G Jayasimha, HSI/India managing director, states: “We encourage the Government of India to move the Indian poultry industry towards being a global leader in animal welfare. They should immediately establish clear timelines to phase out the use of barren battery cages in Indian poultry farms.”

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