Monday, December 19, 2011

FRFA response to Egg Corp's carbon claims

The Free Range Farmers Association agrees with the Australian Egg Corporation that eggs have a lower carbon footprint that any other source of protein, but points out the inaccuracy of assertions that cage egg production is more carbon friendly than free range production.

Grain consumption, energy inputs and transport costs are recognised as the main contributors to the carbon footprint of the egg industry.

The Australian Egg Corporation claims that data prepared for it by consultants, using figures from three egg producers, shows that free range egg production has a higher carbon footprint that cage production – but it does not have the facts to back up this assertion.

It has not revealed any information about the carbon footprint of the infrastructure on intensive farms – the hundreds of cubic metres of concrete, massive shedding etc., or the costs of transporting feed grain from interstate and the transport costs of sending eggs all over Australia.

It has has based its claims on a desk-top review of three selected egg farms in an effort to discredit the free range egg industry.

However, a two year sustainability study of five free range egg farms in the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority area of Victoria showed clearly that feed input costs decreased with lower stocking densities.

One outcome from the nutrient balance figures obtained in that study was that feed consumption increased with stock density. This implied that reliance upon pasture as a feed source decreased as stock density increased.

This table demonstrated the comparative feed inputs.

Lay rate
Feed consumption
Stocking rate
9 DSE/ha
30 DSE/ha
44 DSE/ha
75 DSE/ha

With a stocking rate of 9 DSE (Dry Sheep Equivalent), feed input was just 26kg a year per hen - about 70 grams of feed a day. With a stocking rate of 75 DSE, feed input almost doubled to 48 kg – about 130 grams per day.

The Australian Egg Corporation allows stocking densities on its accredited 'free range' farms of over 300 DSE.

The study was conducted by an independent agronomist for the Free Range Farmers Association and was funded by the Federal Government's Envirofund program.

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