Caged chickens
Caged chickens iStock

The 2022 Animal Welfare Regulations regarding the rearing and keeping of laying hens were unanimously approved by the Education Committee: Beginning in 2037, chickens will no longer be held in cages in Israel.

With this step, Israel becomes one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of cages for laying hens.

The new regulations regulate the rearing conditions for the egg-laying industry, with the aim of ensuring that the industry in Israel will comply with the best standards that exist today, to guarantee the welfare of the chickens. The approved regulations determine, among others: a ban on constructing cage systems, a ban on the practice of induced molting, a ban on beak trimming in the hen house, providing regular care for chickens, and more.

Under these regulations, every new coop that is set up must be without cages (a non-cage system) and, as of 2037, it will be an offense to keep laying hens in cages. The prolonged transition period is intended to allow those in the egg-laying industry to prepare themselves in accordance with the mandatory changes.

This is important because in Israel about 93% of laying hen coops are with cages of various kinds. During the transition period, a minimum living space has been set for the chickens in existing coops, which will range from 600-750 cm (a transition period is also set for coops of 350 cm).

In addition, new and advanced standards have been determined for the living conditions of the laying hens (ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting) throughout all the rearing stages, that will significantly improve poultry welfare.

Regarding the punishment, violations of the regulations can result in a fine in case of infringements relating to paperwork and record keeping, or in imprisonment of up to six months in case of harm to the animals' welfare.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) said: “I am glad that the right fell to me to initiate such a necessary change in the egg-laying industry in Israel. The reform in the egg-laying industry emphasizes the advancement of animal welfare in Israel, the improvement of the industry and public health. We at the Ministry of Agriculture are working to bring the agricultural industry in Israel into the 21st century, including the egg-laying industry. The egg-laying industry is embarking on a new path.”