Consultation on laying hens

Hen Laying Eggs on Nest - by ckstockphoto
Alan Robertson

A consultation on banning the use of cages to house laying hens for egg production has been launched this week.

Views will be sought on phasing out the use of enriched cages, which offered more room to nest, roost, scratch and rest than the previously used battery or barren cages that were banned in the UK in 2012.

In 2020 a survey showed that 88% of the British public consider using cages in farming is cruel and 77% of those surveyed supported a complete ban on the use of cages in farming.  The 2021 and 2023 Programmes for Government made several animal welfare commitments, including to consult stakeholders on phasing out the use of cages for laying hens and gamebirds. Over 1.1 million hens were housed in cages in Scotland as of February 2024. 

Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie said:

“As we committed to in our Programme for Governments, we want to improve the welfare of laying hens to ensure their confinement does not negatively impact their normal behaviours.

“Significant progress has already been made in recognising the importance of animal welfare – both in government policies and the demand from the public in the choice they make when shopping. If implemented, the ban would be another example of Scotland leading the way in improving the welfare of animals by being the first UK nation to ban the practice.

“We’ve seen the European Union put forward legislation to prohibit using cages for all farmed livestock, with Luxembourg and Austria already banning them and others phasing them out. In the coming weeks will also call for evidence on the use of cages in the gamebird and quail egg and meat sectors ahead of consulting on phasing out cages in those sectors in due course. I would encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to take part to help us shape how we protect the welfare of laying hens.”

Although gamebirds are not included within this consultation a call for evidence regarding the use of cages in the Scottish gamebird and quail sectors will be published in the coming months.


The consultation paper contains full background information for this consultation. You may find it useful to read or refer to while responding: Consultation on a proposal to phase out the use of cages in Scotland’s laying hen sector.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks, until Tuesday 25 June 2024

You Gov survey YouGov - Compassion in World Farming Survey Results.pdf