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Free-Range Egg Producers Reject Changes

by 5m Editor
2 July 2010, at 10:51am

AUSTRALIA - A three-hour meeting between the Australian Egg Corporation and a group of free-range egg farmers has resulted in a stalemate between the two groups over stocking density.

The Free Range Farmers Association is upset with plans by the Egg Corporation to change the standard for stocking density for free range egg production, reports ABC.

The association says the Egg Corporation wants raise the stocking density to a maximum of 20,000 chickens per hectare, from the current standard of 1,500 chickens per hectare.

The association's Phil Westwood says he is pleased that the Egg Corporation met with the group.

"The Egg Corporation is wrong because the stocking density is far too high. A stocking density of 20,000 birds per hectare will lead to welfare problems. We also don't think that birds need to be de-beaked or trimmed," he says.

Mr Westwood says the Egg Corporation agreed to discuss possible changes with the group before any standard was adopted by industry.

"That still did not give us a great deal of confidence in the outcome because the AECL's voting system is based on the number of birds owned by each member," he says.

"So the big operators always get through what they want, and the new proposed standards will enable major producers to mislead consumers by legally labelling their eggs as 'free-range' and charging a premium.

"That's even though they do not bear the additional costs of genuine free range production methods."