The ethics and politics of the caged layer hen debate in New Zealand

  • Michael C. Morris


Changes in attitudes toward animal welfare, with a greater emphasis on the importance of allowing animals to express normal patterns of behavior has led to an examination of the practice of keeping hens in battery cages. There is widespread scientific consensus that the conditions of confinement and the barren nature of battery cages severely restrict hens’ behavioral repertoire, and are thus detrimental to their welfare. The New Zealand Animal Welfare Act 1999, stipulates that animals must have “the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour.” In spite of this provision, the New Zealand government has not acted in phasing out battery cages, arguing instead that there is insufficient evidence that welfare will be improved by a phase-out. There is evidence of strong industry pressure on the government, and the use of tactics common in policy considerations where changes are resisted by powerful interests. It is important that policy processes are better managed so that welfare changes are based on both public preferences and scientific knowledge, and ways of doing this are discussed.


animal welfare layer hens New Zealand 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Karori, WellingtonNew Zealand

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