Wednesday, December 30, 2009

63 percent of Canadians support banning battery cages for egg-laying chickens, poll shows

By Stephen Hui, Dec 28, 2009
Almost two-thirds of Canadians support banning the use of battery cages to house egg-laying chickens, a new poll shows.

Across the country, 63 percent of Canadians would back a legislative ban on battery cages in their province, according to the telephone survey, conducted by Harris/Decima for the Vancouver Humane Society.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said they would oppose such a ban, while 11 percent didn’t know where they stood or refused to offer an opinion.

“British Columbians and women continue to be more strongly opposed to the use of battery cages, with 69% (respectively) indicating they would support their provinces making battery cages illegal,” the executive summary of the poll results, released today (December 28), states.

The survey defines a battery cage as a wire cage used to house five to seven egg-laying chickens. It notes that battery cages are stacked two to eight cages high and are found on more than 90 percent of Canada’s egg farms. These farms hold an average of 17,000 hens each.

Even more Canadians would agree with requiring cartons of battery-cage eggs to be labelled “eggs from caged hens”.
The poll found 77-percent support nationally for mandatory labeling. Sixteen percent of Canadians would oppose “eggs from caged hens” labels. In terms of how Canadians feel about battery cages, 58 percent are against their use, 17 percent are in favour, and 24 percent have no opinion. Seventy-two percent of Canadians said they are willing to pay more for animal products “certified to humane standards of care” by a third-party group.

When it comes to cage-free eggs, 54 percent of Canadians are willing to pay a higher price.

The poll also found that 62 percent of Canadians believe farm animals are treated humanely in the process of producing food and other products.

Harris/Decima surveyed 2,012 Canadians from December 3 to December 13. The poll’s national results are considered accurate plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Vancouver Humane Society is an animal-welfare organization that runs a campaign to improve the quality of life for egg-laying hens.

In response to a request from the society, the Metro Vancouver board of directors in February voted to send a letter to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency expressing opposition to the use of battery cages due to the “inherent cruelty of confining egg-laying hens” in them.

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