Debate rages over hen conditions
The Egg Producers Federation has announced the proposed change to colony cages is accepted by the industry but that it will cost $150 million and take an estimated 18 years for the industry to recoup.
The SPCA agrees that the investment layer-hen farmers will make is substantial and therefore consumers can expect hens to live in cages for a long time to come.
However, British figures show that the cost of converting from battery cages to a barn system is less than converting to a colony cage system and delivers the cage-free eggs that consumers want.
‘‘Consumers are becoming far more conscious of where and how their food is produced and they don’t want cages,’’ SPCA national accreditation and marketing manager Juliette Banks said.
‘‘With a steady annual increase in the free-range egg market it is clear consumers will not accept caged eggs in the future.’’
For industry to spend millions converting a system that consumers would reject seemed pointless.
‘‘The production cost of barn eggs is only slightly higher than the colony system so the cost difference to consumers at the checkout will be minimal, however the life quality of the chicken is considerably better,’’ Ms Banks said. The SPCA Blue Tick accreditation scheme audits cage-free producers to ensure good welfare standards for layer hens.
Consumers choosing Blue Tick products can be assured of high welfare production standards.
EGGS: Spca-approved eggs improve quality of life for hens.