To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what provisions within the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987 are additional to those required to implement the European directive 86/113/EEC; and for what reason they were included in the regulations;(2) what scientific research has been undertaken by his Department into the optimum size of battery hen cages to house one, two and three birds, respectively.
Member states are required to implement at least the minimum standards laid down in this directive. The Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987 require more space than the directive's minimum of 450 sq cm per bird when there are only one, two or three birds in a cage. This is because it is recognised from work carried out in this country and abroad that birds in such small colony sizes are less able to share each others' space than when there are four, five or six birds in a cage. Work carried out by my Department suggests that mortality is reduced and egg production increased when small numbers of birds are given more space.