Code of Practice

The Model Code stipulates areas relating to the production of Poultry in Australia.

The production of eggs in Australia is guided by the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry. This Code covers aspects of housing, stocking density, nutrition, health and animal husbandry of all domestic poultry in Australia. The Code was officially endorsed by State/Territory Ministers for agriculture in 2002 and has not been reviewed since.

Hens in cages

Image source: AECL

The 2002 Code, although largely voluntary, required a change in the space allowed for each hen in a cage from 450cm2 to 550cm2 - this increase is equivalent to the size of a drink coaster. The industry had until January 2008 to make these changes. Today, the Code still allows each hen less space than the size of an A4 piece of paper to live out their laying life.

The Code and the use of cages in egg production are supported by the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL), the egg industry's marketing, and research & development body. Their support for cages continues despite animal welfare concerns and community expectations.

It's time the Code acknowledged the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows hens suffer continuously when confined to cages. Review of the Code is long overdue and must be a priority if laying hens are to get a chance at a better life.