Cage-free poultry farming is gathering momentum in India: likely to harbour Salmonella

Feb 18 2019

Cage-free poultry farming is gathering momentum in India

In India, as in many other countries, the fast-food chain sources eggs from battery hens – an inhumane method of breeding poultry, where the hens are kept within the confinements of a space no larger than an A4 sized sheet. In 2015, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook had put in motion a 10-year-plan to “go cage free”. Following the promise, McDonald’s South Africa and Canada wings switched to cage-free eggs, but in India, where free-range chicken farming is in nascency, it’s yet to take a similar step.

The campaign to ban battery cages was launched by People for Animals some years ago, but has gained momentum in the past three months with a petition. The issue was raised in the Supreme Court in July 2016 (by way of a transfer petition), filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India, calling for a prohibition on the sale of eggs from battery cage farms.

This isn’t the first time that a BJP MP has appealed to the fast food company to switch to free-range eggs. Mumbai-based Poonam Mahajan had written a similar letter to Jatia in December 2016. “Keeping hens in battery cages are likely to harbour salmonella, which is found in retail eggs and is a major cause of food poisoning in India,” she wrote.


The demand for free-range farming by the BJP MPs is a call to ensure more ethical treatment for the birds. Farms like Happy Hens farm in Bengaluru and a smaller operation in Ammapalayam in Tamil Nadu, are attempting to provide birds with a life as cruelty-free as possible.


In February, artist Amitabh Kumar created a street mural in Delhi in association with People for Animals, using the white brick wall of a garbage dump to depict a small cage holding within it a hen, bent over from lack of space. “This is the kind of life that the hen lives in its entire one and a half years and then goes for slaughter,” said Gauri Maulekhi, an animal activist with People for Animals. “It is kept in an intensively confined space and unable to spread its wings ever, while we enjoy our little fried egg. We can make it better with very little effort, a little more compassion, a little more space.”