Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012

The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012 came into force on 7 December 2012 and revoked the Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2005.

This code sets the minimum standards for the care and management of layer hens under all forms of management used in New Zealand. The purpose of this code is to provide guidance to the owners of layer hens and to persons who are in charge of them about the standards they must achieve in order to meet their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
Anyone who owns or is in charge of layer hens must be aware of the codes of welfare and comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz).

For more information about the process undertaken to date, please see the page How are Codes Developed and refer to the links below

For more information about the process undertaken to date, please see the page How are Codes Developed and refer to the links below

Other relevant codes of welfare are:

As part of the amendments to the Layer Hens code of welfare, the Egg Producers Federation undertook to provide the Minister for Primary Industries with an annual report (offsite link to www.biosecurity.govt.nz) outlining progress towards phasing out conventional cages and transitioning to alternative layer hen farming systems.

Replacing battery cages will be a significant undertaking for farmers.  Most farmers will need to build new sheds, either on their existing sites or on new sites, with the associated need to raise capital, possibly purchase land, obtain building and resource consents, physically build new sheds and restock their flocks.

The first report, released in December 2014, notes that the industry is on track to meet the timeframes set out in the code of welfare. Since the announcement of the code in December 2012, five conventional cage farms have left the conventional cage sector – three have left the industry, one has transitioned to a barn operation, and one has transitioned to a colony operation. Overall, there has been a 4.9% reduction in the number of hens in conventional cages.

As at December 2014, there are 130 active commercial egg farms in New Zealand. Of this, 38 farms still use the conventional cage farming system and are working towards phasing this out. Of these 38 egg farms, 13.3% (five farms) intend on leaving the industry at the transition date required; 13.4% (5 farms) are still undecided as at December 2014 as to whether or not they will exit the industry at the transition date required; and 73.3% (28 farms) intend to carry on egg production via alternative farming systems.

Note: Eggs are an important low-cost source of protein in the diet of New Zealanders.  The per capita annual egg consumption in New Zealand continues to grow and in 2014  is now 227.  Because of biosecurity reasons, the market is completely dependent on locally produced eggs.

Page last updated: 18 December 2014