Deputies Ban Cage Breeding of Hens in Czech Republic From 2027
The new law will see the practice phased out by 2027 in the Czech Republic, earlier than a proposed EU-wide ban. Meanwhile, the next generation of Czech farmers are taking matters into their own hands to clean up the industry. Photo credit: Vajiska.cz, courtesy of Daniel Stanek.
Czech Rep., Sep 21 (BD) – A new law banning the cage breeding of hens has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and will come into effect from 2027. On September 16th, 100 of the 102 deputies present voted in favour of the ban, which still needs approval from the Senate and a signature from President Milos Zeman. Václav Klaus Jr. from the Tricolor movement was the only member to vote against the ban.
Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman opposed the ban. “You have put the Czech Republic under enormous pressure on egg imports and you are liquidating Czech producers. That is all you have done,” he said. He argued that the ban should be a collective decision by the European Union.
ANO deputy Patrik Nacher said the Czech Republic should also consider a ban on the sale in the Czech Republic of cheaper eggs from countries without such restrictions on chicken farming.
Some opponents of the measure from within the industry say the decision should be left to consumers to choose which eggs they prefer. “If the proposal is approved and the farms are closed, then the state will have to compensate the failed businesses. We will act to ensure that breeders receive compensation,” said Tomáš Pýcha, Chairman of the Agricultural Association.
In the Czech Republic, about 4.5 million hens are raised in cages annually. These hens may only have the space equivalent to a piece of A4 paper, which does not allow them to live naturally. In Austria, Germany, and Luxembourg, a ban on the cage breeding of hens is already in force.
A New Generation of Chicken Farmers
Alongside the legal developments, a younger generation of farmers are taking the law into their own hands and changing the face of the chicken industry in the Czech Republic.
In 2018, Daniel Stanek and his friend saw a video of birds being bred in cages in the Czech Republic and were filled with pity for them. At that moment, the two friends decided to fight against the atrocious treatment of the birds in their own slow, quiet, yet effective way, by starting their own open-air poultry farm, Vajiska, in Brno.
The 23-year-old Stanek did not have much experience breeding birds, except that his family used to breed hens. “Our family owns a farm building that has not been used for many years, and this led to the decision to start breeding free-range hens.” The basics he learnt from his family are still the same but “at the moment I breed hens a little differently.”
Daniel says that birds should be allowed to have some fun while being bred. “In our opinion, hens should live as naturally as possible so that they can stretch, dig or wash. These are natural behavioral phenomena that are normal for them, but conventional farms did not allow it to them.” He breeds Isa Brown hens, a species he describes as “resistant beautiful brown-colored birds.”
When Stanek began his farm he had just 50 birds; he now has 200, and takes pleasure in caring for them in all seasons. “I take care of hens in the same way in summer and winter, perhaps the only difference is more frequent cleaning of the areas in winter, because they spend more time inside. In summer, hens spend most of their time outdoors, allowing them to have the most fun. Winter for hens means a rest from producing eggs every day,” he said.
“Our hens are bred in the best possible way and we give them maximum natural conditions. Now, we are trying to start a full business in this field, and we will definitely strive to get the ‘bio’.” he added.
Stanek breeds his eggs for customers whom he says care about what they eat and about the breeding of the animals. “Mostly it’s young people that really appreciate it. Everyone has a smile on their faces. There is positive energy everywhere and that is important,” he said.
Stanek considers the new law passed by the Chamber of Deputies to be a “great decision”. “The cages should disappear in 2027, which is a relatively long time, but it is the right step. There are also EU subsidy systems for farmers,” he said. Daniel hopes that the new law banning cage breeding in the Czech Republic will help make up for the many crimes committed against birds.
For more information about Stanek’s business, you can visit the company’s website.