Chicken and Egg - page 10

Chicken & Egg. Welfare and Food Together.
Colony caged eggs
Finally, we have the caged counterpart; a
hen bred in exactly the same way as barn,
free range and organic hens, but selected
for cheaper egg production. She will live in
a large metal cage for her entire life, and be
contained within one ‘colony’ housed within
a unit containing hundreds of similar colonies
all with up to 90 hens in each. Colonies are
tiered and a single ‘hen house’ may contain
many tens of thousands of birds within colony
cages. It’s an efficient and cost effective way
to produce cheap eggs, but a hen will not be
given access outdoors at any point.
What determines a hen ending
up caged or free range?
All chicks are hatched and kept in rearing
units until they reach pullet stage around 18
weeks and then go onward to a farm be it
organic, free range, barn or colony.
Whatever their lifestyle all hens go to
slaughter at around 72 weeks of age as egg
production slows and egg shell quality drops.
She could live for years but, she would not
produce enough eggs to satisfy consumer
demand for cheap food products.
The future
The British Hen Welfare Trust wants to see a
strong British egg industry above all else, so
that we can maintain and improve welfare,
and support our great British farmers.
However, we would like to see improved egg
box labelling and the current segmentation
within free range go a few steps further with
clear information for consumers on exactly
how laying hens are kept. Hiding behind
hackneyed marketing terms is outmoded,
and lacks clarity and transparency. Let’s be
clear that colony eggs are from hens kept in
cages; be more positive about barn eggs
(a well- managed barn hen can enjoy a lot
more freedoms than a colony caged hen);
and be frank about free range.
There is a market for all farmers, and a moral
obligation to give consumers the full picture.
Whether we create new labels for multi-tier
hens or label ‘traditional’ free range hens
Approved Free Range is for the industry to
explore and consumers to support.
Transparency in my viewwill enhance appeal
– so come on UK egg industry, unscramble
your boxes please!
How do you like your eggs?
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