Thursday, April 14, 2016

Push is on to stop caging hens

Mercy for Animals, which uses sensational videos of animal and poultry farming abuses and pressures retailers to stop buying from those who use gestation stalls for sows and cages for egg layers, says it’s launching a final push to get rid of caging hens.

It released another underground video, this time shot inside a layer barn at Shady Brae Farm in Marietta, 90 miles west of Philadelphia.

It shows chickens trampling on each other, dead hens being pulled from cages and carcasses littering the floor of a room.

This is nothing new. Naturally farmers normally put hens on the floor when they pull dead ones out of cages, then collect them for composting. And even hens roaming in wide-open outdoor spaces sometimes crawl on top of each other.

Mercy for Animals can make a legitimate case for improving welfare, but this video does not impress me.

"Cramming animals in cages so small they can't even spread their wings or walk without climbing over each other is cruel and has no place in a civilized society," said Matt Rice, Mercy for Animals' director of investigations.

In Canada, the big three supermarket chains – Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro – used their membership in the Retail Council of Canada to say they will stop marketing eggs from caged layers. They have, however, said they will approve of hen housing that meets accepted animal welfare standards.

So what does that mean? I think it means whatever makes more money for the chains is what they'll do.

Walmart announced last week it’s moving to cage-free eggs. It’s the largest supermarket business in the United States. Kroger, number two, said earlier it will go to cage-free eggs.