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Hen Welfare is Now a Political Issue

by 5m Editor
30 December 2010, at 10:39am

CANADA - Most Canadians say politicians' stance on farm animal welfare would affect their vote, says a new poll.

According to a recent Harris/Decima poll commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS_, and funded by the Vancouver Foundation, 71 per cent of Canadians said they are concerned about the humane treatment of farm animals and two-thirds (65 per cent) said a political candidate's stance on farm animal welfare practices would factor into their voting decision.

The poll zeroed in on attitudes about eggs and laying hens. After learning about the differences between eggs from hens confined in battery cages and those from cage-free farms, three in five Canadians (57 per cent) indicated they oppose the use of battery cages, and 68 per cent would support a legislated ban on cages for their province, up five per cent since 2009's poll.

Battery cages are used in the production of 97 per cent of Canada's eggs. Science has proven that hens suffer in cages. With five to seven hens per cage, they deny hens the ability to engage in any of their natural behaviours, such as nesting, wing-flapping or dust bathing. Despite the cruelty of cages, the poll shows that half (51 per cent) of Canadians buy white eggs from caged hens.

Leanne McConnachie, Director of Farm Animal Programs for the VHS, said: "Most people don't realize regular white eggs come from factory farms. In fact, one-third (32 per cent) of respondents wrongly believed that five to 24 per cent of eggs in Canada come from cage-free hens when only three per cent are cage-free. Fortunately in BC, where we have focused our ChickenOUT! campaign, 15 per cent of provincial egg production will soon be cage-free. We'd like other provinces to follow suit."

Nearly three-quarters of Canadians (72 per cent) stated they would be willing to pay more for farm animal products that were certified to humane standards of care by a third-party organisation. British Columbians (80 per cent) are more likely than Ontarians (70 per cent) and those in Manitoba/Saskatchewan (64 per cent) to be willing to pay more, and three-quarters of Canadians (78 per cent) support a requirement to label cartons as 'eggs from caged hens' if the hens are raised in battery cages.