I have received many emails regarding caged hens.
Animal welfare is a devolved matter in Wales and, therefore, the responsibility of the Welsh Government. However, the Welsh Government has agreed that HM Government shall legislate for both England and Wales on certain matters, including this. I fully acknowledge the importance of animal welfare, and HM Government is taking action on many fronts to improve the health and wellbeing of farm animals through a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
The Government is committed to strengthening animal welfare standards and is currently examining the use of cages for laying hens. Ministers recognise the need to work carefully and sensitively with the poultry industry, which is currently facing significant challenges. Decisions on a future public consultation on this issue would need to be carefully considered due to these wider challenges.
Around 60 per cent of our hens are now kept in free-range systems, and a number of with major supermarkets have pledged to stop selling eggs from the remaining 40 per cent of hens in colony cages by 2025. Ministers will continue to work with the poultry industry on improving feather cover and keel bone health, as well as reducing the amount of beak trimming.
Furthermore, the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway will prioritise areas for additional improvement in the health and welfare for poultry, pigs, cattle and sheep. Regarding meat chickens specifically, producers are being encouraged to implement the Better Chicken commitment which would require the use of slower growing breeds and lower stocking densities.
More broadly, Ministers are taking action to improve the health and wellbeing of farm animals through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which will ban exports of livestock and equines for slaughter and fattening.