Dr Harsh Vardhan: End Cruelty to 46 Crore Battery Caged Hens in India

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Imagine being confined in a small room with several other people with so little space that if you stretch your arms out, you would hit the side of the room or other people. Sounds uncomfortable and inhumane, doesn’t it?

Well, 46 crore egg-laying hens in India live their entire lives in cages exactly like that - in a room where they don’t even have enough space to stand up straight or turn around.

Battery cages are barren-wire cages that are stacked next to each other in an arrangement like batteries. Egg-laying hens are confined in battery cages, most prevalent in the egg production industry in India. In a battery cage, each hen is provided with space that is less than an A4 size sheet of paper – only about 450 square cms. And anybody who has held a sheet of paper in their hand knows that a hen is far larger than that.

A typical egg farm contains thousands of cages, lined in multiple rows, stacked 3-5 tiers high with a minimum of 50,000 egg-laying hens in the farm.

Battery cages prevent nearly all forms of natural behaviour of hens such as nesting, perching, roosting, scratching and foraging.  These hens suffer from high-stress levels and poor health. Often, their claws painfully overgrow into the wires of the cage making it difficult for them to move. During ‘de-population’ for slaughter, it is normal practice to simply cut off the legs of birds whose claws are entangled in the cage wire.  

But these hens don’t have to be kept in these conditions. There are viable housing systems which allow the hens normal movement. Non-cage systems, known as aviary, barn or free-range production systems, may be single or multi-tiered with or without outdoor access. These systems are already in use across the world and have been recommended by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Law Commission.

Support our petition to ask Dr Harsh Vardhan to end battery cage cruelty now.

The Animal Welfare Board of India, in 2012, declared that battery cages are a violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which aims to protect all animals. However, there has been little implementation. Since then, the Law Commission of India has recommended draft rules that provide some standards for housing laying hens. The High Court at Uttarakhand also recently prohibited the use of battery cages in the state, whereas the Delhi High Court prohibited the establishment of new battery cage systems for housing poultry.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change needs to listen! Battery cages need to be banned by the Government of India and the Egg-Laying Hens Rules must be notified.

Sign this petition and urge the Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change to notify the draft rules recommended by the Law Commission.