De­bate rages over hen con­di­tions

South Waikato News - - OPINION -

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.

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