Taiwan shuts gate on cruel duck cages
Taiwan has issued a ban on new battery cage farms for egg-laying ducks, slamming the brakes on a shift towards cages in the local duck egg industry.
Taiwan is believed to be the first country in the world to issue such a ban.
Taiwan is home to more than two million laying ducks. While the majority are housed outside of cages, a growing number of producers have begun confining their flocks to barren wire cages. According to estimates by EAST, approximately 400,000 laying ducks were living in cages in Taiwan as of late 2019.
Ducks raised in cages suffer higher rates of foot injuries due to the abrasive wire floors and are deprived of the water they need to maintain their eye, bill and foot health, regulate their body temperature and plume their feathers.
In Taiwan, duck eggs are a common food item and are typically consumed pickled or salted, or in processed food products such as mooncakes. According to official statistics the local duck egg industry is valued at more than USD $60 million per year.
The ban prohibits new duck egg farms from housing laying ducks in “battery cages.” Farms that do not adhere to the ban will be denied registration by the authorities. As Taiwan’s regulations provide no definition of enriched cages for ducks (unlike for chickens), the new rules effectively rule out all forms of cage farming.
The ban follows the publication of undercover investigations by EAST and We Animals Media in 2019. The investigations revealed animals with frustrated head bobbing behaviors and open foot wounds from rubbing against the cage wires.
In 2020, Taiwan’s duck egg industry was singled out by Eurogroup for Animals as a threat to European animal welfare standards as Taiwan sought approval to sell egg products to the EU.
“We applaud the authorities for taking action to end the horrific abuse of ducks in cages” said Yu-Min Chen, Deputy Chief Executive of EAST. “However, authorities have a duty to act swiftly to set a phase out date for existing cage duck farms,” she added.
In Asia, hundreds of millions of ducks are farmed for their eggs. Many are raised in traditional farming systems such as in rice paddies where they feed on insects to protect the crop.
However, recent investigations have exposed laying ducks confined in squalid cages in Indonesia, while some Chinese equipment manufacturers tout the rearing efficiency and economic benefits of “factory breeding” in cages.
Yu-Min Chen, Deputy Chief Executive
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)
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