As it is proposed to be voluntary, it will really be just a marketing tool as other eggs from intensive farms will be able to be labelled as 'free range' as long as they don't claim to meet the new standard.
You can access details about the proposal at:
Comments are invited and close on July 12.
The comments we will be sending are:
- A maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare with an emphasis on maintaining ground cover for sustainable farm operations. This may require lower stocking rates when vegetative cover is depleted (such as during drought).
- Beak trimming of free range hens should be prohibited as it is not necessary with low stocking densities.
- Some limitation should be made on the number of hens in a shed as this can impact on whether or not the hens actually go outside. A maximum of 1000 or perhaps 2000 hens per shed at densities specified in the Model Code could be adopted.
- The hens must have full access to the outdoor area for at least eight hours every day