Hen wel­fare tops sur­vey

South Western Times - - News - Sam Gibbs

Hen wel­fare was a top pri­or­ity for con­sumers in a CSIRO sur­vey on the egg in­dus­try, some­thing Bin­ningup egg farmer Blythe Cal­nan ex­pe­ri­enced on a ground level when deal­ing with cus­tomers.

The Run­nymede Farm owner said peo­ple needed to sup­port eth­i­cal egg pro­duc­ers if they were se­ri­ous about an­i­mal well­be­ing.

“Peo­ple are pri­ori­tis­ing hen wel­fare and we re­ally need to fo­cus on that,” Ms Cal­nan said.

“I think, at times, the in­dus­try can think they know bet­ter than their con­sumers. This is in­di­cat­ing that it’s re­ally im­por­tant for ev­ery­one to pull up their socks a bit . . . and that’s go­ing to im­prove the wel­fare of mil­lions of hens.

“The other in­ter­est­ing part was that an­i­mal wel­fare groups seem to have more in­flu­ence over peo­ple’s trust than the ac­tual egg in­dus­try it­self, which once again doesn’t sur­prise me but is some­thing the in­dus­try re­ally needs to work on.”

Ms Cal­nan said her ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning a small farm of 400 chick­ens showed her that cus­tomers val­ued trans­parency and di­rect con­nec­tion with farm­ers.

“The fact that they can ac­tu­ally talk to the farmer, they can see videos and pho­tos of ev­ery­day life on the farm, gives them that trust in our sys­tem that they’re will­ing to pay what our eggs cost,” she said. “In the scheme of things, peo­ple are pay­ing $5 for a cof­fee, so pay­ing $7.50 for a dozen eggs should be a bit of a no-brainer.

“If you’re pay­ing $3 for a dozen eggs and $5 for a cof­fee, and say­ing you care about an­i­mal wel­fare, then you prob­a­bly need to get look at your pri­or­i­ties a lit­tle bit.”

Ms Cal­nan said she was dis­ap­pointed the CSIRO’s sur­vey did not men­tion con­sumers’ level of trust in farm­ers. “This does not even recog­nise peo­ple value that di­rect con­nec­tion with their farmer which is some­thing the big­ger in­dus­try needs to look at,” Ms Cal­nan said. “The in­di­ca­tion in this re­port is that peo­ple re­ally do care about the wel­fare of the an­i­mals, that’s what I see on the ground.”

Run­nymede Farm owner Blythe Cal­nan with com­pan­ion dog Beans and one of the chick­ens he guards.

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