Letter: Healthy cages

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I refer to Paul Waugh's report that the use of antibiotics in agriculture create a "worse risk than BSE" (18 August).

I produce eggs in battery cages and take exception to the implication that intensive units use antibiotics routinely. The reason we changed from free range to deep litter to battery cages in the period from 1954 to 1980 was that to keep birds healthy, one had to treat with antibiotics on these litter systems. Since changing to battery cages I have had no need for antibiotics.

The proposed abolition of cages for laying hens in 2012 is a retrograde step and is not in the interests of the consumer, the producer or the birds. I have not required my poultry vet for some years. Most of their work is now with litter-based poultry, where birds have access to their own manure and therefore suffer more disease challenge. This is where most antibiotics are now used - not in caged egg-laying units.

ROGER STRATTON

Keynsham, Bristol

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