Chicken & Egg Issue 11 - page 8

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Our Mission Statement
It’s probably just as well to remind
ourselves of our Mission Statement; after
all it’s why it all started:
The British Hen Welfare Trust is a national
charity that re-homes commercial laying
hens, educates the public about how
they can make a difference to hen
welfare, and encourages support for the
British egg industry. Its ultimate aim is to
see consumers and food manufacturers
buying only UK produced free range eggs,
resulting in a strong British egg industry
where all commercial laying hens enjoy a
good quality life.
That pretty much still sums it up, but what
the mission statement doesn’t detail is our
ethos.
Respect for the British Egg Industry
Respect for the egg industry remains
number 1 on the list. How can we help
hens if we don’t understand why hens are
kept as they are? Respect has been
encapsulated in our much used message
that ‘as long as there is a demand for
cheap eggs, we prefer those eggs to
come from British colony farms’.
I have visited many colony units and had
open access to birds at different ages,
and whilst I must acknowledge that not all
farms have good husbandry, the majority
we work with have hens in better
condition than the old style barren cages.
Some farms have birds in superb condition
at their laying cycle.
Soon we hope to collect hens from a farm
that has taken 10 years to consider
working with us. Throughout I’ve
maintained a respectful distance, but this
year we had a meeting which impressed
me on many levels and gave me insight
into what is happening within the industry
and how the future is looking brighter for
our hens.
In essence there has been tremendous
expansion in the British free range flock,
the focus is squarely on high welfare free
range units with trees and shrub cover.
The farm mentioned above had facilities
for their free range hens which mine
would love – mown paddocks; young
and established trees shooting up to
provide shade and dust bath areas and
solid otter-proof fencing to keep out the
most determined predator, and excellent
multi-tier housing enabling hens to perch
high and behave naturally. We couldn’t
ask for more.
Well managed free range growth is what
we encourage and I have raised the
issue of supporting our British free range
farmers before and, whilst our colony girls
will always take precedence,
in the next
ten years we will take free range hens
from those farmers investing now in free
range systems, and I’m proud to be
doing so.
In the last
Chicken & Egg
I reflected on the charity’s early years, on the highs and lows,
the people who helped to make a difference to our growth, and on the happiness, sense
of wellbeing and poignancy that keeping ex-bats brings. In this edition I want to focus
on the future, how we aim to continue to have a positive impact on hen welfare and how
we hope to achieve our aims.
“There are thousands of you
quietly, gently, steadily
influencing British consumers ...”
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