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Scotland opens consultation on hen cage ban
There are currently more than 1.1 million caged hens in Scotland.

Country could become first in the UK to outlaw the practice.

The Scottish government has launched a consultation on banning the use of cages to house laying hens.

Ministers are seeking to ensure that hens have the freedom to exhibit their normal behaviours and that welfare standards reflect public values. Their preferred option is a ban introduced in instalments between 2030 and 2034.

A survey conducted by YouGov in 2020 found that 77 per cent of the British public supported a complete ban on the use of cages in farming

Battery cages have been illegal in the UK since 2012, but ‘enriched’ cages, which offer more room than battery cages, are still in use. As of February 2024, there were more than 1.1 millions caged hens in Scotland out of a total egg-production population of almost 6 million.

If a complete ban on hen cages in Scotland were introduced, it would be the first in the UK.

In Europe, Luxembourg and Austria have already made it illegal to use cages for hens, and other countries, including Germany and Slovakia, are planning to introduce bans. A planned consultation by the UK government was abandoned last year.

Jim Fairlie, agriculture minister, said: “As we committed to in our Programme for Governments, we want to improve the welfare of laying hens to ensure their confinement does not negatively impact their normal behaviours.

“Significant progress has already been made in recognising the importance of animal welfare – both in government policies and the demand from the public in the choice they make when shopping. If implemented, the ban would be another example of Scotland leading the way in improving the welfare of animals by being the first UK nation to ban the practice.”

The veterinary profession is among the sectors that the Scottish government is keen to hear from.

Mr Fairlie added: “I would encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to take part to help us shape how we protect the welfare of laying hens.”

The consultation is open until 25 June 2024. Responses can be submitted online.


Image © Shutterstock

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RCVS Knowledge appoints Veterinary Evidence editor-in-chief

News Story 1
 RCVS Knowledge has welcomed Professor Peter Cockcroft as editor-in-chief for Veterinary Evidence.

A world-renowned expert in evidence-based veterinary medicine, Prof Cockcroft will lead the strategic development and editorial quality of the open-access journal. He was previously in the role from 2017-2020.

Katie Mantell, CEO of RCVS Knowledge, said: "We are excited about the extensive knowledge of evidence-based veterinary medicine and clinical veterinary research that Peter brings, and we look forward to working with him over this next phase of the journal's development." 

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News Shorts
Defra to host bluetongue webinar for vets

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be hosting a webinar for veterinary professional on bluetongue on Thursday, 25 April 2024.

Topics covered will include the transmission cycle, pathology and pathogenesis, clinical signs (including signs seen in recent BTV-3 cases in the Netherlands), and control and prevention.

The session, which will take place from 6pm to 7.30pm, is part of Defra's 'Plan, Prevent and Protect' webinar series, which are hosted by policy officials, epidemiologists and veterinary professionals from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. The bluetongue session will also feature insights from experts from The Pirbright Institute.

Those attending will have the opportunity to ask questions. Places on the webinar can be booked online.