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Laying Hens

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will make a statement on DEFRA-funded research into enriched cages for laying hens; [114257](2) what research into cages for laying hens she has assessed, with particular reference to enriched cages; and if she will make a statement. [114260]

Defra is currently funding research into these types of cages in order to enhance our scientific and practical knowledge. The research project which finishes in June 2004, aims to evaluate the effect of stocking density and cage height on bird behaviour, welfare and performance as well as investigating innovative material suitable for dustbathing in enriched cages. The project is a collaboration between ADAS, Bristol, Lincoln and Roslin universities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the EU directive (1999/74/EC) in respect of height requirements for enriched cages. [114258]

Council Directive 1999/74/EC sets a minimum height of 45cm for the useable area of enriched cages.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what economic assessment she has made of the welfare of laying hens (a) housed in free-range systems and (b) housed in barn systems; and if she will make a statement. [114259]

An economic assessment of the effect of Council Directive 1999/74/EC on alternative systems was undertaken as part of the Regulatory Impact Assessment prepared for the implementation of this Directive into domestic law.Further economic assessments will be carried out in preparation for the 2005 Review of Directive 1999/74/EC.