No more caged hens
Belgium’s Federal Animal Welfare Authority has informed the Farmer’s Association that the transition period for switching from battery cages to enriched cages and alternative systems will end the 31st of July.
There will be no extension and surveillance will be increased. Companies found not in compliance in the past can expect an inspection, and from the 31st eggs found to be from battery hens will be destroyed.
As of 1 January 2012, all laying hens in the EU are to be kept in enriched cages or in an alternative housing system.
Many countries, including Belgium, at that time were not ready for the conversion, thus the European Union put in a seven-month transitional period.
One of the EU stipulations that came with the transitional period was that the eggs from traditional caged layers could only be sold within the country, thereby removing any competitive edge that could be gained from flouting the ban.
The end of the transition period is fast approaching, and Belgium's Federal Animal Welfare Authority has informed the Farmers Association that the deadline will not be extended.
After July 31, measures will be significantly tightened. Companies that are not in order can expect to be re-audited by the Food Agency.
The eggs of any hens found in traditional cages will be seized and removed for disposal, or sent on for use in a non-food industry.
Belgium is committed
Belgium poultry farmers are committed to being in line with the layers directive.
“Other countries have taken extra measures to be in compliance and avoid fines, but in some countries getting line with the directive is still a problem.
Especially Italy, Spain and Poland there are still a lot of laying hens in conventional cages.
How Europe will deal with these countries and remind them of their duties is the question,” said Wouter Wytynck, poultry specialist.