We welcome the opinions of farmers on
all egg related matters and earlier this
year we met the team at Oaklands Farm
Eggs Ltd, including Neville Pennington,
Sue Mintz and Pearl Pennington.
Oaklands is a family business based in the heart of Shropshire owned
by John Aled Griffiths OBE and his two sons Elwyn & Gareth
Griffiths. Employing 110 staff, the family remains as passionate about
egg production as the day it started in 1967. Oaklands produces over
500
million colony eggs a year and works with many free range
producers across the UK; helping to support their businesses and
market their eggs. Oaklands also funds an educational enterprise at the
Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire which is where we
met Sue, Neville and Pearl.
For those unfamiliar with the colony cage system, the birds are kept in
large cages within a building. Colonies vary in size and hold birds
according to their cage size (usually 40 – 90 birds). Legal requirements
are that each bird has 750 cm sq space compared to 550 cm sq in the
old battery cage system.
Thanks everyone for agreeing to do this interview with us, we know
our supporters will be interested to hear your views on the following:
1)
Why do we need colony cages?
The Colony system links all the benefits of higher
welfare, health, hygiene and traceability for the
production of British eggs; it is an economical
alternative to less affordable types
of egg production.
2)
Colony units are perceived by some
consumers as unacceptable in terms of
welfare. What would you say to those
consumers?
The Colony system is designed to ensure a
controlled and safe environment for hens. They
do not fear being eaten by foxes or challenged by
severe weather conditions. The hens are able to
socialise in small groups and carry out natural
activities such as perching, dust bathing and egg
laying within a nesting area. This environment
is controlled to exclude the disease impact from
drinking dirty water or having access to manure
and external wildlife which often leads to
bacterial or viral infections.
3)
You have two sizes of colony, one taking 20
birds, the other 80 – are there any differences
between the birds and/or egg production
rates?
Our Colonies predominantly accommodate 80
hens although we are trialling different sizes
from 20 up to 100 at our Harper Adam
University research farm, so far there appears to
be minimal differences between these units but
they are all very well feathered when compared
to our barn production house which allows 3500
birds to live together. The Colony production
rates are high and very consistent, with low
mortality compared to alternative systems.
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