Replace battery cage system with cage-free farming – Participants
Participants at the West Africa Free chicken conference have expressed concerns about the suffering of birds brought about by the rising trends of battery cage systems.
For them, the battery cage system needed to be replaced by cage free farming to better cater for the behaviour and physiology of the birds.
Battery cages are a housing system used for various animal production methods, but primarily for egg-laying hens.
It was put together by the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) in partnership with LA Veterinary Hospital and Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), with support from Centre for Effective Altruism.
The conference seeks to highlight the status of cage chicken farming in West Africa, its legal and policy framework as well as expound on consumer notions on the production system.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, in a keynote address read on his behalf,called for an alternative to battery cages as it was cruel and carried harmful germs that could spread to humans.
“Most small-scale poultry producers in Africa use battery cages to breed their chickens mostly in backyards. Battery Cages are very cruel to the chickens. You will realised that cages are banned in Europe, so why should we allow them here in Africa”.he queried
He was however quick to add that “the new intervention took time before its implementation and the government was working closely with stakeholders by way of sensitising them on the need to rethink the issue of usage of battery cages in chicken farming.
“We are coming up with adequate ways to set the agenda so that the masses get to know about the effects that battery cages have on chickens in Ghana. It is an inhumane practice that is very oppressive to the chickens,” Mr Acheampong bemoaned.
, The Executive Director of ANAW, Mr JosphatNgonyo, stated that battery cages were broadly considered to be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of birds, which could not exercise natural behaviour and were exposed to infection and disease because of the cramped condition.
“The menace caused by cages is unheard of as the bearers of the pain cannot voice out their frustration and discomfort. Caged systems are extremely restrictive and painful for hens, keeping them from performing natural behaviours, and subjecting them to injuries from close confinement.
“The solution to this problem is cage-free farming, which is indigenous to the Ghanaian community. Cage-free farming is not suggestive of adopting any system from western countries, as the Ghanaian ways of raising chickens like open backyard farming, free range, and deep litter are effective and efficient cage-free methods to raise laying hens,” Mr Ngonyoindicated.
He explained that Cage-free eggs, especially those from free-range and organic systems, had been shown to have some nutritional benefits compared to caged eggs.
Dr Mrs Victoria Norgbey, National President of Women in Poultry Value Chain, pointed out that consumers were calling for reforms of egg production and sourcing policies in Ghana by egg producers, hotels and resort facilities, food chain restaurants and retailers to improve the welfare of laying hens which were crucial in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“By banning battery cages, millions of chickens will experience less suffering while producing better if not the same eggs so there is the need for support and assistance for poultry farmers move to a cage-free system,” she intimated.
BY BENEDICTA GYIMAAH FOLLEY