A barren battery cage in Europe typically holds four or five hens with a floor space allowance per bird of less than an A4 sheet of paper. Hens in these cages are typically kept in closed sheds that are artificially lit and ventilated. From the day they enter these cages, to the day they are taken for slaughter, they may never see sunlight or feel fresh air.
A hen in a barren battery cage is unable to carry out many of her most basic natural behaviours. She can't forage for food, can't roost, can't lay her eggs in a nest. She cannot even stretch her wings. This causes her extreme physical and psychological stress.
When the European Union agreed to outlaw barren battery cages and the sale of whole eggs from hens in these cruel cages, it was recognised by many as a truly monumental step forward for animal welfare. With the ban officially taking effect on the 1st January 2012, hundreds of millions of hens across Europe have already benefitted.
But Poland isn't following the rules.
The European Commission estimates that over 4 million hens in Poland are still in illegal cages. In the months since the ban has taken effect, producers in Poland have already been caught sending millions of eggs from farms in breach of the ban to other EU nations.This not only breaks EU law and harms animal welfare, but it also undermines farmers in other countries that are following the rules.
It is time that Poland sets in place an action plan to comply with the ban, keeps illegal eggs off the market, and imposes meaningful punishments on producers still keeping hens in illegal barren battery cages.