The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to launch a public consultation on banning all cages for laying hens. New welfare standards for laying hens due to come into force in England this week will ban conventional barren battery cages from 1 January 2012 and forbid new ones being installed after 1 January 2003. Farmers will still be able to use enriched cages which have more space for each bird and include a nest, perch and litter.