Home   News   Article

Banff and Buchan MP raises concerns over effects of cage ban for egg laying chickens

By David Porter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Chicken or hen on a green meadow. Selective sharpness. Several chickens out of focus in the background
Chicken or hen on a green meadow. Selective sharpness. Several chickens out of focus in the background

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid has raised concerns that a new consultation on banning egg companies from keeping chickens in cages could risk food security and put north-east producers at a ‘huge disadvantage’

The proposals would outlaw the use of cages to house hens involved in egg production.

If granted, the move would result in Scotland becoming the first part of the UK to ban egg companies from keeping chickens in cages.

Views will be sought on phasing out the use of enriched cages, which offered more room to nest, roost, scratch and rest than the previously used battery or barren cages that were banned in the UK in 2012.

In 2020 a survey showed that 88 per cent of the British public consider using cages in farming is cruel and 77 per cent of those surveyed supported a complete ban on the use of cages in farming.

Over 1.1 million hens were housed in cages in Scotland as of February 2024.

Banff and Buchan Conservative MP David Duguid has encouraged organisations and stakeholders to “make their voices heard” in the consultation amid concerns the move will put north-east producers at a huge disadvantage, resulting in retailers and food operators importing caged eggs from overseas with potentially lower welfare standards The Egg Industry Council also said had “serious concerns” about the plans. Caged chickens also account for around a quarter of eggs consumed in the UK and the council said they provide shoppers with “affordable, nutritious, high-quality food, and providing a vital option for a large section of the population, particularly during the ongoing cost of living crisis”.

MP David Duguid said: “I’m extremely concerned by these proposals from the SNP-Green Government which will put egg producers in the north-east and the rest of Scotland at a huge disadvantage. If this goes through, retailers could resort to importing caged eggs from outside of the UK, potentially with significantly lower welfare standards.Egg companies contribute a vast amount to our economy and I worry that this could lead to a reduction in the number of eggs in the market which would be catastrophic for our food sector, particularly in the north-east. Continuing to improve animal welfare standards is key, and so-called ‘enriched cages’ are a far cry from the ‘battery cages’ people may be imagining – but so is food security and pushing the sector too quickly could have serious consequences.”

Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie said:“Significant progress has already been made in recognising the importance of animal welfare – both in government policies and the demand from the public in the choice they make when shopping. If implemented, the ban would be another example of Scotland leading the way in improving the welfare of animals by being the first UK nation to ban the practice. We’ve seen the European Union put forward legislation to prohibit using cages for all farmed livestock, with Luxembourg and Austria already banning them and others phasing them out. In the coming weeks will also call for evidence on the use of cages in the gamebird and quail egg and meat sectors ahead of consulting on phasing out cages in those sectors in due course. I would encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to take part to help us shape how we protect the welfare of laying hens.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More