The demand for free range eggs has grown by 62 percent in the past 5 years and YOU the consumer have done that. For our farmers that means that you have sent a very loud message that you want the food you eat to be raised humanely and ethically and that you have a perception of what free range means.
At the big end of the poultry industry however, this growth has only signalled an opportunity. An opportunity to make more profit by cashing in on the demand but also a demonstrated unwillingness to actually make a commitment to changing the intensive farming systems that they currently employ.
Take a Virtual Tour of a Humane Choice Farm stocked at less than 1,500 hens per hectare
We are now witnessing an attempt by both the egg and the poultry meat industries to highjack the term free range and take away your right to truth in labelling. Both industries are intent on ignoring the Code of Practice is a bid to take over the free range industry. Take Action!
How many hens are actually outside? Is this free range?
Now have a look at what Egg Corporation want to label as free range in their new standards
We have been hearing about the Australian Egg Corporation's push to increase stocking densities for free range layer hens to 20,000 per hectare over the past few months but the latest development has come from a consortium of well known chicken and turkey producers that have joined together under the banner of APIA (Australian Poultry Industries Association) This is not an industry representative body as such, rather it is an association owned by the larger players within the poultry meat industry. It does not represent all chicken or turkey meat producers in Australia.
APIA only want to give chickens and turkeys the same area outdoors that they have indoors.
That could mean stocking densities of 6 turkeys per sq metre or 60,000 turkeys per hectare and 14 chickens per sq metre or 140,000 birds per hectare. APIA want to label this as free range.
Learn more about APIA
Learn more about Australian Egg Corporation
What Is The Model Code of Practice?
The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - Domestic Poultry, is national set of guidelines for the production of eggs and poultry in Australia. This code covers both the production of eggs from layer hens and meat birds. It is important to understand this because this is where misrepresentation of the code is occurring and advantage taken of unsuspecting consumers.
There is an Appendix to this Code that is receiving a lot of attention at the moment in particular this section:
A2.1.4 Maximum Acceptable Live Weight Densities for Free-range Birds
- Outdoors for layer hens a maximum of 1500 birds per hectare.
- When meat chickens use only some weeks of the 10 week cycle on pasture (eg 4 weeks) a proportionately higher stocking density than for layers may be use.
- NB Any higher bird density is acceptable only where regular rotation of birds onto fresh range areas occurs and close management is undertaken which provides continuing fodder cover.
This section of the code is an Appendix to the code and therefore cannot be read in isolation from the rest of the code of practice. There are many other areas of the code that discuss conditions for free range hens.
The code has clearly made allowances here for differences in production systems by making a clear statement about stocking rates for layer hens while allowing a proportionately higher rate for meat birds that only spend 4 weeks of their lives on the range and are of a breed that would have difficulty accessing and using the range. You can download a full copy of the code here ....
Become a Friend of Humane Choice
Let your government and the egg industry know that you will not tolerate being taken advantage of and that when you buy free range you expect it to be just that; free to range. The Code of Practice sets stocking rates for layer hens at 1,500 hens per hectare for very good reason. Lets keep that way.
You may have received a postcard in your egg carton or from your retailer. Please post it and voice your concerns about how your food is produced.
You can also write to government or download a copy of the postcard here and mail it the appropriate Minister in your state. Addresses and contact details are below.
Producers, email us to receive postcards to distribute firstname.lastname@example.org
VictoriaHon. Peter Walsh MP
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
Level 20, 1 Spring St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9938 5951
New South WalesHon. Katrina Hodgkinson, MP
Minister for Primary Industries
Macquarie Street, Sydney. NSW. 2000
South AustraliaThe Hon Gail Gago
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
GPO Box 464, ADELAIDE 5001
Phone: 08 8303 2926
QueenslandThe Hon John McVeigh MP
Minister for Agriculture
Brisbane Qld 4000
Western AustraliaThe Hon. Terry Redman
Minister for Agriculture and Food
11th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
WEST PERTH WA 6005
Phone: 08 9213 6700
Northern TerritoryThe Hon (Kon) Konstantine Vatskalis
Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries
Parliament House Darwin
PO Box 3146
Darwin. NT. 0801
Phone: 08 8901 4132
TasmaniaThe Hon Bryan Green
Minister for Primary Industries
Hobart Tasmania 7000
Australian Capital TerritoryKaty Gallagher MLA
Chief Minister, ACT Legislative Assembly
GPO Box 1020
Canberra, ACT 2601
Ph: (02) 62050840