This decision demonstrates the strength of opposition to the Egg Corporation’s plans from within the industry and is likely to spark strong debate at the Egg Corp's annual meeting in Sydney on November 29.
The fundamental elements of the proposals allowed a maximum stocking density of up to 2 hens per square metre (20,000 hens per hectare), to keep young hens locked in sheds until they are about 25 weeks old (even though they usually start laying at 16 - 20 weeks of age), to have no restrictions on the beak trimming of hens and to keep the hens locked up if the weather is too hot, too windy, too wet or in any other way 'adverse'. The main impacts of the new standards if introduced by the Egg Corp would be serious implications for farm sustainability, truth in labelling, consumer expectations, unfair competition within the industry and issues of animal welfare.
There are no standards anywhere in the world that come close to the stocking density proposed by the Egg Corporation and there is research (ignored by AECL) which shows that it is unnecessary to trim the beaks of chickens.
Contrary to false assertions made by the Egg Corporation, the Model Code does set a maximum stocking density. 1500 hens per hectare is specified as the maximum for laying hens, although an item quoted by AECL from the Appendix to the Code, does allow a higher density for meat birds. When it claims that a higher density is permitted for egg laying hens, what the Egg Corp carefully ignores are the words in the same Appendix 'When meat chickens use only some weeks of the 10 week cycle on pasture, a proportionately higher stocking density than for layers may be used.'