…and stick with Free Range.
This week (13/11/13) some papers reported on recent research suggesting that free range isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In 2012 the EU rightly banned the use of barren battery cages for keeping hens in, these cages would pack 6 birds into a cramped cage giving them no room to move. The ban came in after high profile campaigning which also led to many British shoppers changing their habits and making the switch to Free Range eggs which now make up over 50% of egg sales. This is now being threatened by ‘enriched cages’.
Enriched cages are the battery cage replacement. The term ‘Enriched’ is laughable. The extra space is little more than a postcard sized area for each hen, which means they still don’t have enough space to do what comes naturally to them (stretching their wings for example). These are still cages, they are stacked high, and there are now 70 birds per cage.
Yes, there is a nest box and a few perches, but this is one nest box per cage of 70 hens and very, very limited perching of which many hens are getting sores on their feet due to not wanting to stand on wire all day and not having the ability to move around in open space and scratch as they should.
Any idea that these new cages are better for the hens is a foolish one. Any report that suggests you shouldn’t buy free range should be ignored. A hen needs open space, sunshine, fresh air, room to fly a little, flap around, have a scratch and roam. She needs to feel comfortable and protected, just as we do. If they can sleep easy, then so can you. So stick with your slightly higher priced free range and organic eggs and rest assured that you’re helping hens to have a happier life. We are a nation of animal-lovers after-all.