Henry Smith MP has tabled an amendment to the Government’s Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill which seeks to improve the handling and transport of laying hens prior to slaughter.
The amendment would protect end of lay hens from rough handling while loading for transport and ensure better welfare conditions during travel. It would legislate specifically for:
- The prohibition of catching, lifting or carrying a hen by one or both legs, or more than one hen at a time in each hand.
- Ensuring hens have enough room to stand upright without difficulty during transport. Their head, wings and legs must also not be trapped in or between transport devices.
- Penalties for acting in violation of these regulations.
“The UK is introducing world-leading animal welfare measures for livestock and protections for wildlife through the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. However, it is important that the 39 million laying hens in the UK are not overlooked in these efforts to raise standards.
“At the end of their lives laying hens are often subject to significant distress and injuries due to the speed of handling, and the design of transport modules used for travel to the slaughterhouse. I hope this amendment will provide better welfare conditions for laying hens at the end of their lives.”
Lorraine Platt, Co-Founder of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, commented;
“Laying hens often suffer severe bruising, bone fractures and dislocations as they are handled and loaded onto transport, and further during the journey to the slaughterhouse where legs and wings can be trapped between crates for many hours.
“The UK is proudly introducing other measures to strengthen welfare conditions for livestock in transport before slaughter, and it is only right that we extend these principles to laying hens as well. In doing so we can prevent the suffering of millions of laying hens as they reach the end of their lives.”