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March 19, 2009

Brock University Chooses to Let Hens Spread Their Wings

Animal Protection Groups Applaud University's Decision

Humane Society International

ONTARIO — Brock University in Ontario's Niagara region has become the 12th post-secondary institution in Canada to adopt a cage-free egg purchasing policy. Brock announced its decision Wednesday, saying it is committed to serving 100 percent cage-free eggs in all campus food facilities. As of September 2009, the university will no longer serve eggs from hens confined in cruel and inhumane battery cages.

"We applaud Brock and Sodexo for choosing to drop eggs from hens confined to cages," said Bruce Passmore, director of outreach for Humane Society International/Canada. "By choosing cage-free, the university is helping to end one of the worst forms of animal cruelty."

More than 90 percent of Canada's 26 million egg-laying hens are confined in cages so small they cannot even spread their wings. Each hen is given less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life. Hens are unable to engage in many of their most important natural behaviours, including walking, perching, dust bathing, laying eggs in a nest and even standing on solid ground.

Brock graduate student Kimberly Costello initiated the cage-free egg campaign. "I was so inspired by the Vancouver Humane Society's Chicken OUT! program and the cage-free egg policies that other universities had implemented," said Costello. "I was eager for Brock to demonstrate its commitment to more humane food choices for students."

"We can't justify animal cruelty based on saving a few pennies here and there," said Lynn Kavanagh of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals. "Brock's decision to purchase and serve only cage-free eggs on campus is an example of the kind of socially responsible policy that we all need to follow in order to improve the welfare of animals raised in food production."

While cage-free does not mean cruelty-free, cage free hens generally have at least 250-300 percent more space per bird and are able to engage in more of their natural behaviors than are caged hens. Cage-free hens may not always be able to go outside, but they are able to walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests — all behaviors permanently denied to hens confined in battery cages.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsicanada.ca. 

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