As an owner of two dogs and an animal lover myself, please be assured that I want all animals to be properly looked after. I would also like to assure you that my ministerial colleagues and I take the welfare of all animals seriously. Since publishing the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the Government has delivered an ambitious legislative programme which will bring significant improvements for animals both in the UK and abroad.
I understand that the Government’s key priorities on animal welfare are on delivering the measures in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill through single measure Bills. This includes a ban on live exports, for example. In recognising some of the challenges that numerous sectors in farming have faced, I understand that my ministerial colleagues do not believe that the time is right to consult on cage reforms. I am informed that the market is already driving the move away from using cages for laying hen production, and that the proportion of eggs from caged hens has steadily decreased from 47 per cent of total throughput in Q4 of 2017 to 21 per cent in Q1 of 2023.
I am assured that the Government will continue to work with the sector maintain and enhance high standards of welfare. For example, the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway will prioritise areas for additional improvement in the health and welfare for pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. I know that one of the Government’s priorities for the pathway includes supporting producers to transition away from confinement systems. More broadly, the Government will continue to improve biosecurity to control endemic diseases, and on meat chickens, producers are being encouraged to implement the Better Chicken commitment which would require the use of slower growing breeds and lower stocking densities.
Of course, if you have specific concerns about the welfare of an animal, I recommend reporting it to the police or the RSPCA.