The New Zealand government has announced that battery cages, which house the majority of the national flock, will be phased out over the next nine years.
The ban, similar to the EU’s Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, means that from 7 December 2012, no new battery cages can be installed. Only enriched cages, barn systems or free-range will be permitted.
The NZ government hopes that the country will be fully compliant by 2022.
About 80% of New Zealand’s 42 egg producers use battery systems, producing more than 1bn eggs a year. Minister for Primary Industry David Carter hopes the country will be 45% compliant by 2018.
But the country’s Egg Producers Federation (EPF) said that the timeframe for the ban was unfair. Michael Guthrie, chairman of the EPF, said it was “harsh and punitive”.
“The estimated cost starts at $NZ150m (£77m) and goes up from there – a significant number of farmers will quit the industry.”
The National Animal Welfare Committee (NAWC) developed the new code, which will take into consideration layers’ welfare, housing, health and food and water supply.