Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald, said changes have been made to rules governing the size of layer hen cages to enhance the welfare of layer hens in NSW.
Mr Macdonald said the amendments were made to regulations under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA).
"These changes will improve the welfare of poultry kept for egg production and ensure the industry remains both profitable and productive," he said.
"They have been developed in close consultation with industry and bring NSW into line with the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) agreements in 2000 and 2001.
"Producers have been aware of these changes since they were first raised by ARMCANZ more than seven years ago.
"The NSW Government established a Layer Hen Welfare Reform Committee in 2005, to facilitate the introduction of these new standards.
"Other States, such as Queensland and Victoria, have already started the process of implementing the ARMCANZ-agreed standards and are working towards the introduction date of 1 January 2008 set by the Primary Industries Ministerial Council.
"The NSW layer hen industry is made up of about four million layer hens with gross farm gate value of production around $115 million."
The changes include:
* Increased cage height;
* Increased cage door width; and
* Improved stock density.
These amendments now deliver on the Government’s commitment to meet the 1 January, 2008 implementation date.
To further facilitate introduction of the new standards the State Government, through the NSW Department of Primary Industries, will:
* Develop a comprehensive campaign in partnership with the Minister’s Layer Hen Housing Welfare Reform Committee to communicate new requirements direct to the industry;
* Recruit a full-time industry development officer to assist industry adjustment; and
* Commit an environmental engineer to provide technical advice to producers on options for new cage installation.