Cage Free Hens! If Europe can do it so can we!
Posted on April 22nd, 2012

Maneka Gandhi -Courtesy 

In 2012 battery cages for chickens will be formally outlawed in the Europe Union, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Norway have already banned battery hen cages. This decision comes as a result of the sustained campaigns by millions of Europeans.

Unfortunately in India, the animal welfare groups have not yet taken up the cause of animals raised for food. Fifteen years ago, I went to court to protest the working of Idgah, the main slaughterhouse of Delhi . The Supreme Court shut it down. Fifteen years later an even worse one has come up. But now no one complains because the butchers have learnt their lesson and become partners with their MP and the state government. Consequently no one is allowed to enter it, film anything or look at the records which are been faked everyday to show one tenth of the animals that are actually being killed.

The Supreme Court passed a direction three years ago ordering the Animal Welfare Board of India to inspect all the slaughterhouses. A man on the Board took on the duty to inspect the ones in Kerala. He traveled in a car owned by the butchers. He stayed at posh hotels and he never saw the inside of a single slaughterhouse before he filed his report that “All Izz Well”. He was caught by animal welfare activists when filing fake bills. He is no longer on the Board. But not a single inspection has taken place since.

There are two areas where the animal welfare movement needs to turn its attention to: the cruelty in professional poultries and the traffic and killing of cattle.

While there are thousands of things wrong with the way chickens are reared, one cruelty which can be removed easily if we all get together and campaign is the battery cage for chickens. India ‘s factory farms confine 140 to 200 million hens in battery cages and there is little “cage-free rearing of chickens.” Last month the Dalai Lama has condemned battery hen farming and is urging consumers to switch to buying eggs from chickens kept outside of cages. “Turning these defenseless animals into egg-producing machines with no consideration for their welfare whatsoever is a degradation of our own humanity,” the Buddhist spiritual leader said “Switching to cage-free eggs would reduce the suffering of these animals.”

Most caged birds have less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper to move on. They cannot even raise their wings or turn around. Their suffering turns into anger and they try to bite the bird next to them. But they cannot because, anticipating this, the poultry owner has cut off their beaks and their toes with hot knives and no anesthesia. They live and die in agony
“The abuse we inflict on hens has always been particularly disturbing to me and I have always been particularly concerned toward how these animals are treated in industrial food production,” says the Dalai Lama.

I came across a beautiful letter written by an Australian. I thought you should read it:

“I heard a person arguing with another. She said: You want all the dogs to be tied up all the time. Fine. But since we know that dogs feel and behave as humans, as an experiment, let’s try replacing the word “dog” with the word “uncle”. Would you feel the same way ?

It got me thinking. What if we followed the logic consistently?

For example: 

Replace the word “calf” with “daughter”. Would we still crush her rib cage and kill her?
Replace the word “Sheep” with “sister”. Would we still terrify, traumatize and send her to be stabbed to death?

Replace the word “Chicken” with “child”. Would we cage her so she couldn’t move, burn off her lips, and kill her as soon as we had forcibly fattened her beyond recognition?

Replace the word “cow” with “mother”. Would we still drag her screaming on a chain to the kill floor and hack her body into bits, while her friends watched in horror?

Replace the word “food” with “friend”. Would we still torture and kill TWO BILLION of our friends every week?

Think of them as humans in another form. That doesn’t mean you get silly and dress up your dogs. It doesn’t mean beds with linen, hundred-dollar dresses, obesity-inducing diets, nail polish spas, handmade soap and doggie mascara. It means you start thinking of chickens, pigs, cows, buffaloes, goats who are crammed into small spaces, fed rubbish and then killed after breaking all their limbs in overloaded trucks. Frightened babies are torn from their distraught mothers. Chickens have their beaks cut off; cows have their horns pulled from their heads; pigs are castrated””‚all without painkillers. Then they are herded into filthy, slippery transport trucks and taken to slaughterhouses where they are strung up by their legs and their throats are slit.

Even if you are vegetarian, what are you doing against these horrifying crimes? What will your answer be?

The first thing we need to demand is that the Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry put down the law to order all poultries to keep only cage free birds.

Cage-free does not always mean “cruelty-free” but cage-free hens generally have 250 percent to 300 percent more space per bird and are able to act more naturally than caged hens. If Europe can do it so can we.

Maneka Gandhi

See also

Mahi Klosterhalfen on Creating a Cage-Free Europe

3 Responses to “Cage Free Hens! If Europe can do it so can we!”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Almighty God created every thing to be used. Almighty is using humans and humans can use other animals what is wrong ?

    Chicken and Cattle are grown and fed in small spaces where they can not move very much and waste the food that they were fed because food is energy and weight gain. Wasted food means, if animals move very often, reduced profit margins.

    Some how animals selected for fast fattening are fed as much as they want and as soon as they are fattened for the right size they are killed.

    If we can understand one day we our selves may be born as these animals and unknowingly might go through the same experience.

  2. AnuD Says:

    It looks Sri Lanka follows the same method as India does.

    In Sri Lanka too, a few people can buy politicians and, after that, politicians work against the majority interests.

    As politicians are elected officials they are bound to consider the majority decision. As voters don’t understand the reality some organized local NGOs should SUE these politicians who work for businessmen and forget the majority interests. Govt should prepare laws for that, if those laws already not in place.

  3. Voice123 Says:

    Sri Lanka as a predominantly Buddhist country, must extend laws to promote compassion to all beings, including domesticated and wild animals. Ritually cruel slaughters as well as senseless cruelty must be banned. Strict guidelines must be imposed for animal slaughter. Harsh punishments must be meted out to offenders. There must be less “political talk” and more concrete action.

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