Retailers promise halt of caged hen eggs following shocking video

Photo: Miroslav Zimmer / Czech Radio

Major supermarket chains Lidl and Globus this week made a breakthrough announcement this week, pledging to gradually phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens in their Czech stores. The decision was prompted by a video recently released by the animal rights group Obraz which revealed atrocious conditions in Czech intensive poultry farms.

Photo: Miroslav Zimmer / Czech Radio
The video, shot secretly in four different poultry farms around the Czech Republic, shows hens crammed in cages where they are unable to even spread their wings, often standing on top of the corpses of their deceased cage-mates. Most of the birds suffer from severe feather loss and their bodies are covered with bruises.

The released footage is part of a campaign called Jak to snáší?, which could be translated as How many eggs do they lay?, but also as How can they bear it? Launched by the animal rights group Obraz at the beginning of this week, the campaign appeals to retailers as well as to the public to boycott eggs from intensive farms.

Pavel Buršík is the campaign’s coordinator:

“In the Czech Republic we have 90 percent of hens and almost 90 percent of eggs produced coming from battery cages, which is one of the highest numbers in the EU.

“We are not only behind such countries like Austria, where battery cages are already banned by the law, and countries such as Germany, Denmark, or France, but we are even worse than countries from Central and Eastern Europe, such as Hungary, Croatia and Romania. So we should really take a step in the right direction.”

According to data from the Bohemian and Moravian Poultry Union, more than 87 percent of Czech eggs come from battery farms. Only 11 percent of hens are kept in free-range farms and just about one percent of the birds are bred in natural conditions. Pavel Buršík once again.

Photo: jackmac34 / Pixabay CC0
“We believe that in the 21st century it is totally unacceptable to keep animals in small cages. Only in the Czech Republic we are talking about at least five million hens living in such terrible conditions.

“Egg producers are not motivated to change to free range eggs unless there is demand from the public. People have to ask their supermarkets and restaurants about their policy on poultry breeding, they have to ask whether they care about the suffering of animals and whether they are willing to change.”

The secret footage from Czech poultry farms has been quickly picked up by the media, sparking widespread condemnation. Just a few days after the video was released, German retailer Lidl announced their commitment to phase out the sale of caged hen eggs by 2025, while online grocer Rohlik pledged to switch to free-range eggs as early as 2019.

The animal rights group Obraz has also launched a petition against battery-cage farms, which has been signed by more than 26,000 people to date.