Taiwan’s Duck Egg Industry Could Be Going Cage-Free

Taiwan has banned the use of new battery cages on its duck farms.
taiwan duck industry
Taiwan has banned new battery cages from its duck farms. | Andrea Lightfoot/Unsplash

(Updated February 15, 2022) | Taiwan’s duck industry will no longer be able to use new battery cages. The country has outlawed the enclosures from its duck farms.

Battery cages, or conventional cages, are designed to house egg-laying animals like hens and are generally made of wire on all sides. 

Taiwan is the first country in the world to ban battery cages for laying ducks. Considering the scale of the country’s duck egg sector, the impact of the ban will be far-reaching. 

A staple in Asian cuisine, Taiwan’s duck egg industry is valued at more than $60 million, according to the animal protection organization Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST). With more than 400 duck farms, the country has approximately 2.16 million egg-laying ducks, reports Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture. Altogether, the ducks lay upwards of 500 million eggs each year.

The majority of ducks are not housed in cages; of the 400 farms, around 60 use battery cages. However, duck egg producers have started to transition their practices to incorporate the use of battery cages.

According to EAST, the country doesn’t have provisions for enriched cages—which are bigger, with nesting areas and perches. This means that the ban, which went into effect on December 30, 2021, effectively ends the use of new cages in the country’s duck farming industry altogether. A phase-out date for existing cage duck farms has not yet been set.

Taiwan’s ban on new battery cages went into effect on December 30, 2021. | Getty Images

Taiwan bans battery cages

Duck eggs are also popular in the U.S. Taiwan exports more than half of its duck eggs to the country—more than any other. From 2016 to 2020, 81.4 percent of Taiwan’s duck egg exports to the U.S. were shipped to California. 

However, on January 1, 2022, the state’s Prop 12 initiative (which closed loopholes present in a similar ban passed in 2015) took effect, making it illegal to sell eggs—including those from ducks—that were raised in battery cages. 

While a common method for confining egg-laying animals industrially, the animal welfare concerns of battery cages are extensive. The enclosures negatively impact animals both physically and psychologically. 

Due to the fact that the animals are kept in such small, cramped enclosures, they are unable to partake in natural behaviors, such as scratching, foraging, and nesting, which can result in stress-induced behaviors. The wire cages can cause physical ailments, including foot disorders, open lesions, and overgrown claws.

“We applaud the authorities for taking action to end the horrific abuse of ducks in cages,” said Yu-Min Chen, EAST’s deputy chief executive. 

A number of other states—including Massachusetts, Washington, Michigan, Utah, and Ohio—and countries have passed similar bans or legislation that phases out battery cages. In 1992, Switzerland banned both battery and enriched cages—the first and only country in the world to do so. Seven years later, the European Union announced the use of battery cages would be phased out by 2012 in favor of enriched cages. Other countries include Germany, India, New Zealand, and Norway.

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