Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 18th January 2022.

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Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the Government’s policy is on the use of cages in respect of (a) pets, (b) poultry farming, (c) livestock farming and (d) game farming.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how his Department defines a cage for (a) pets, (b) poultry farming, (c) livestock farming and (d) game farming.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/action-plan-for-animal-welfare). One of the ways we wish to improve the welfare of farm animals is strengthening protections against animal confinement. We are actively exploring options to phase out the use of cages in farming, including the use of enriched cages for laying hens, farrowing crates for pigs and cages for breeding pheasants and partridges. Ending the use of cages would have a significant impact on some sectors of the farming industry and so we would need to undergo a public consultation.

For pets, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations, introduced in 2018, require businesses that carry out activities involving animals to obtain a valid licence from their local authority. Licences must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. The 2018 Regulations are supported by statutory guidance which provides specific information about the conditions for each activity. This includes guidance on the size of cages that should be sold in the course of selling animals as pets:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/animal-activities-licensing-guidance-for-local-authorities

Current requirements on how farmed livestock should be kept, including detailed provisions on accommodation, are set down in The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 with further guidance provided in Defra’s species-specific farm animal welfare codes.

For gamebirds, the Statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes provides keepers with guidance on how to meet the welfare needs of their gamebirds as required by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It recommends that barren cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used and that any system should be appropriately enriched.

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