chapter  12
Caged welfare
Evading the good life for egg-laying hens
ByKristian Bjørkdahl
Pages 20

The term oxymoron comes from Greek and is composed of its words for 'sharp' and 'dull'. To say that the debate about the battery cage resembles an oxymoron is to say that the notion of 'caged welfare' - the idea that the relevant components of a hen's happiness could be satisfied in cages - went against the grain of all established wisdom about how to keep hens. Over time, the oxymoron 'caged welfare' was felt increasingly as a case of hypocrisy. Cages did not really square with the hen's natural needs, but they did satisfy certain other needs, not least the one of appeasing the industry and other representatives of rural interests. If the idea of caged welfare was an oxymoron, this is a case in point. Not even the producers were able to square the battery system with hen welfare, but reverted instead - nostalgically - to the image of a previous, traditional system.