Most hens in France are still in cages

Most laying hens in France – 58% – are still in cages and the government is back-pedalling on its pledge to end the practice by 2022, an animal welfare association claims.

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Léopoldine Charbonneaux, of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), said: “Public attitudes are clear. People are against cages. As a result, most eggs sold ‘in-shell’ are barn-laid.

“Retailers have been quick to respond and many have pledged to stop selling cage-laid eggs entirely, but eggs in commercial products such as biscuits and cakes, packaged sandwiches and salads, eggs in restaurants, etc, come from hens in cages unless stated otherwise.”

Battery cages were made illegal across the EU in 2012 and governments invested in helping farmers change to producing barn-laid eggs.

France gave grants to farmers to install “enriched cages”, measuring 30cm3 per bird.

However, animal rights associations, including L124 and CIWF, claim they are little better than traditional battery cages and are energetic in lobbying for them to be abandoned.

“Less than a year after the adoption of the ‘EGalim’ act, which included a provision to ban putting new or redeveloped farm buildings into use for caged hens, the government is back-pedalling.

“A new draft text would allow farmers to redevelop existing buildings to contain caged hens, and only outlaw work designed to increase production,” Ms Charbonneaux said.

“It would allow producers to reinvest in cages for another 20 years. Macron pledged to phase them out by 2022.”

Ms Charbonneaux said egg producers are blocking change.

“It’s the entire system which needs to change, so producers are not tied into investment deals linked to caged hens. But there is a lack of political will.”

CIWF is also pushing for better labelling so the public know what they are eating.

“We’ve drawn up a food guide, which is available on our website [].

“Eggs crop up unexpectedly in all sorts of food products. Unless otherwise stated, they are all from caged hens.

“It’s important because France is the third largest egg producer in the EU, and yet has a higher proportion of hens in cages than other member states.”

See also: Making vegan eggs