Chicken and Egg - page 8

8
Chicken & Egg. Welfare and Food Together.
How do you li
Organic free range eggs
At the top of the welfare pecking order is
the organic hen; flock size is restricted to
3,000 (6 hens per square meter indoors) and
she is free to range on organic land and fed
an organic diet. She continues to enjoy the
best in terms of nourishment and lifestyle
throughout her laying life.
‘Traditional’ free range eggs
The commercial free range hen can typically
live in a flock as small as 400 or up to 32,000
(9 hens per square meter indoors) she has
access outside but is not fed on organic
feed.
However, being a free range hen in the
modern world is an increasingly complex
issue.
Most of us think of a free range hen
pottering about an orchard, scratching
for bugs and slugs, laying an egg in a
traditional hen house which is collected
by the farmer (think Darling Buds of May).
Package imagery validates a farm fresh,
eat-me-with-a-clear-conscience egg and
those of us who are discerning shoppers
think we are doing our bit for animal welfare
when we pop the free range half dozen into
our shopping basket.
Free range, multi-tier, organic, barn or ca
My passion for hens led me to start a charity for chickens, and when I
established the British Hen Welfare Trust it was with a view to giving
supporters open, honest and clear information.
The rise of free range egg production continues, and this is of course good
news, but there is a sense within the egg industry that some British farmers
are giving the free range sector a bad name. It’s a question we’ve asked before –
how free range is your free range egg? Below is the rundown on what’s in
your egg box in terms of welfare.
However, a free range egg now encompases
such a wide variation that consumers could
be forgiven for questioning the fairness and
honesty of what’s on an egg box, never mind
what’s in an egg box.
The luckiest free range hens can enjoy living
in a small flock of 4,000 or less; they can
access pastures with range enrichment such
as trees, shade and shelter provision. Brands
such as the happy egg co. and Woodland
Eggs offer good examples of range
enrichment designed to encourage foraging
and other natural behaviours.
‘Multi-tier’ free range eggs
Stepping aside fromwhat we traditionally
consider to be ‘free range’ – small flocks
and green fields - it all becomes a little vague.
Free range multi-tier hens live according
to the same rules and regulations as a
traditional free range hen, the difference
being that a free range multi-tier hen lives
within a hen house full of metal staging.
Multi-tier free range is high rise, city living with
access outdoors. However ‘non-traditional’,
this stark environment does provide birds with
the opportunity to behave in a natural fashion
and so from a hen’s perspective multi-tier
free range living is pretty acceptable - she
can embrace her jungle fowl ancestry by
roosting on metal branches rather than trees
and can still forage outside by day.
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