The free-range crusade in Australia is not a new one, yet you can still buy cage eggs in most supermarkets around the country.
Not for much longer in Tasmania, however, following a decision made by the Tasmanian government to phase out cage egg production.
Perhaps buoyed by the prospect of Australia's first cage egg-free state, a new campaign devised by Animals Australia and starring singer Missy Higgins hopes to put an end to cage eggs in Australia.
There is little nice to say about eggs laid by hens living in battery cages. Hens have no access to a perch or outdoor areas, nor do they have room to spread their wings.
Birds are debeaked, and up to 12 million male chicks are killed at birth in Australia each year (pictured below).
Lisa Chalk of Animals Australia describes the birds' living conditions as those of "abject misery". The hens are, she says "forced to eat, sleep, defecate and lay their eggs in a small space, shared with four or five other birds."
There is also the problem of brittle bones caused by a lack of exercise, which according to Lisa results in one out of every six caged hens suffering broken bones that go untreated.
Free range hens, on the other hand, have it much better.
"A free-range hen has the ability to exhibit her natural behaviours, such as dust-bathing, foraging, perching, and building (or selecting) a suitable nest," says Lisa.
Despite the historic move forward by Tasmania, Australia is lagging behind other governing bodies such as the EU, which banned all battery cages in its 27 member states as of the start of this year.
There are 12 million hens living in cages in Australia, an "inexcusable" figure according to Lisa, "given other developed nations have long acknowledged the cruelty of cages."
The Animals Australia campaign is three-pronged, and encourages you to:
- Use your consumer power. Only buy free-range eggs (including the Eggs Benedict at your local cafe!), and consider reducing your egg consumption across the board.
- 'Be a voice for hens'. That means voice your concerns on social media and in letters to the big supermarket chains.
- Sponsor an Animals Australia ad to help spread the message.
If you want to learn more about how you can help end cage egg production in Australia, visit the Animals Australia website.