Hens are smart, curious and social animals.  When confined to a barren battery cage, they suffer immensely throughout their lives.

In Australia, over 10 million hens suffer in battery cages every year. This is possibly Australia's worst animal welfare issue, but something that every Australian can do something about.


The welfare issues of battery cages

For a hen to have a good life, she needs the freedom to move around, to stretch, flap her wings, perch and bathe in dust to keep her skin and feathers clean and healthy. Importantly, she needs to be able to lay her eggs in a nest.

Battery cages, which are approximately the same size as an A4 sheet of paper, prevent hens from being able to exhibit any of these natural behaviours.

Battery cages are being phased out all over the world. But in Australia, with each state and territory having their own set of poultry industry codes, there is no consistency, and no movement by any state to move towards banning battery cages.

The national Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are currently under review for the first time in over a decade.

This is the time for state and territory governments to step up, acknowledge the science, respond to the community, and finally end this cruel and outdated farming practice.


New national Poultry Standards & Guidelines

After being under review for nearly seven years, on 18 August 2022, national Poultry Standards and Guidelines were released. These included a commitment to phase out battery cages in Australia by 2036.

The most significant improvements to poultry welfare in the standards and guidelines made by the independent panel include:

  • A phase-out of conventional layer hen ‘cages’ over 10 to 15 years (at the latest by 2036), depending on the age of current infrastructure.
  • A requirement to provide environmental enrichment for meat chicken breeders.
  • Changes to the minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation, and temperature parameters for all species.
  • A requirement to provide breeder ducks with access to bathing/dunking water.

While the Standards and Guidelines include a commitment to phase out battery cages by 2036, each State and Territory in Australia can implement the phase out within that time frame.

RSPCA WA will continue to work with and encourage the State Government to take the lead and implement a phase out of batter cages in WA well before that date.

You can find more information about the national Poultry Standards and Guidelines here.


RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme logoHow you can help

There are a number of ways you can help to support cage-free conditions for hens:

  1. Look for the RSPCA Approved logo on eggs on the supermarket shelf.
    RSPCA Approved eggs come from farms that have committed to providing better welfare conditions for their hens, which means they can exhibit natural behaviours. Most importantly, battery cages are not allowed.
  2. Choose Wisely—support cafes and businesses who choose cage-free eggs in their ingredients.
    When dining out or ordering food, always ask if the eggs, and any items containing eggs, are cage-free. Support cafes, restaurants and businesses who have committed to using cage-free products.

Check out these Cage-free and Proud businesses

More info on RSPCA's Choose Wisely initiative