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Current Affairs

Draft rules prohibits keeping hens in cramped battery cages

Date: 02 May 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

Union Ministry of Agriculture and Family Welfare has notified draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules, 2019, prohibiting keeping of hens in cramped ‘battery cages’ by the poultry industry. These draft rules comes on direction of Delhi High Court order.

What is the issue?

Delhi High Court (HC) had asked Union Government to come out with rules to end cruelty to egg-laying hens after it was brought to its notice by animal right activists that hens used for production of eggs were reared in small, barren wire cages (size of an A4 sheet) called ‘battery cages’.

Battery cage is name given due to the arrangement of cages placed side by side. Animal right activists have criticized battery cages as they are so small that hens placed in it are unable to stand up straight or spread their wings without touching sides of the cage or other hens. Due to compactness of these cages, hens face health problems such as sore feet, minor and major abrasions, broken bones and other bodily injuries. It also increases risk of diseases in compactly placed flock of hens.

Salient Features of Draft Rules

  • Ban on Battery Cages: It prohibits keeping hens in cramped battery cages by the poultry industry.
  • New Cage Specifications: It mandates to keep minimum 550 sq cm of floor space per bird. It also mandates that each cage should also accommodate preferably minimum of 6 to 8 birds for ensuring reasonable space for hens and access to feed and water.
  • Feed: It prohibits use of ‘growth promoters’ in feed of hens. It also completely ban feeding of hens with remains of dead chicks. It also bans practice of withdrawal of feed to induce molt in birds.
  • Anti-biotic Usage in Poultry Industry: It restricts use of antibiotics only for purpose of therapeutic (disease treatment).

Implementation

Stakeholders can raise objections on these draft rules within 30 days so that it can finalise legally valid guidelines to end such cruel practices under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. Once final rules are notified, it will come into force from 1 January 2020. It will be binding on poultry farms to make changes under new guidelines before January 1, 2025.