With International Women’s Day 2020 just past, we’re thankful to all our incredible female staff continuing to drive improvements to farm animal welfare in Australia. As a predominately female office, its days like these that provide an opportunity to recognise the achievements of our team who lead RSPCA Australia’s animal welfare science and policy, standards development and certification, industry engagement and informing the community of what they can do to improve farm animal welfare.
While we celebrate some of the amazing achievements to better the lives of farm animals in Australia, we know there’s lots to do in the decade ahead, especially when it comes to setting a sister free.
Late in 2018 the Federal Department of Agriculture published a report by consultancy Futureye, ‘Australia’s Shifting Mindset on Farm Animal Welfare’ which found that 95% of people view farm animal welfare to be a concern and 91% want at least some reform to address this. Statistics that we can certainly relate to! The report also found that concern was evenly spread between metro and regional areas, highlighting that this issue is not a townie country divide, like many would think.
We know that Australian businesses are responding to consumer concerns and making necessary changes with their suppliers to drive change for farm animals in Australia. Prime examples being the companies that have said no to sourcing eggs from hens in cages, and overhauled their procurement requirements to move to only purchasing cage-free eggs for their products. You can check out just some of these well-known brands on our Cage Free & Proud campaign.
Despite this ongoing movement, there’s still over 10 million Australian layer hens confined to barren battery cages. Hens in cages live a miserable existence, each having the space equivalent of an A4 sheet of paper. They can’t lay their eggs in a nest or dustbathe – the basic behaviours these gals need to have a life worth living.
While more businesses in Australia respond to consumer sentiment and commit to cage-free eggs – the ‘Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Poultry’, which underpins the legislation set by state and territory governments in relation to poultry farming hasn’t kept up. Under review for the first time in over a decade, RSPCA Australia continues to push for a phase out of battery cages in the development of the new ‘Standards and Guidelines for Poultry’. Australians also joined the RSPCA to share their desire for a cage free future for hens, with over 167,000 submissions made during the public consultation.
Australia should be following the other 75% of OECD nations in phasing out the use of barren battery cages, towards more humane, sustainable systems that mean a better quality of life for hens. To take action for layer hens, see our website.
The RSPCA team will continue our work with food companies transitioning away from cage eggs, working with producers keeping hens in cage-free systems, forming B2B connections in the food industry so that cage-free egg commitments can be met and ensuring that cage-free systems are fit for the future of egg farming in Australia.
To the 10 million hens confined to cages in Australia – we hear you. We’ll continue to fight the good fight for you on International Women’s Day, and every day in 2020 and beyond.
If you’re a farmer or company looking to improve animal welfare, and make a change for hens, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org