Dutch researchers say that there are sufficient alternatives to cages and pens in the EU for chickens and pigs, and that the abolition of cages benefits animal welfare. If the European Union wants to encourage livestock farmers to abolish cages, the additional costs must be paid in one way or another.
A transition to non-cage housing for laying hens is possible if the increased costs can be recouped. This can be done through a price-product mechanism as well as through premiums or subsidies, researcher Professor Bas Rodenburg told Nieuwe Oogst when asked.
At the request of the European Parliament, behavioral biologists, veterinarians and ethicists from the University of Utrecht have conducted a literature review into practical examples of non-cage systems, especially in chickens and pigs.
The researchers advise the EU to stimulate a transition to non-cage systems through European subsidies. An added value in animal welfare should also be passed on to the consumer, and that amount should benefit the person making the investment: the livestock farmer.
The three-month study consisted solely of a written literature review. The researchers advise the European Parliament to involve the sector in the follow-up process in thinking about and advising on innovations in their business operations.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) the results will be presented to the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels. The presentation will be done by Prof. Bas Rodenburg, Professor of Animal Welfare and Maite van Gerwen, Project Leader CenSAS, both from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University.
According to Rodenburg, education and instruction about animal welfare can still be improved. There is still a lot of lack of understanding and knowledge about animal welfare. In order to successfully make the transition, poultry farmers must be trained and learn how to work with such systems, Rodenburg will argue tomorrow.
Later this week (Thursday), the European Parliament will also discuss the citizen's petition for a ban on cages. This Citizens' Initiative is discussed in a hearing by the Agriculture (AGRI) and Petitions (PETI) committees. This petition has been signed nearly 1.4 million times Europe-wide.