Monday, November 04, 2013

Free Range doesn't encourage avian influenza

Comments by Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce that more free range eggs farms will lead to an increase in the incidence of avian influenze are a result of industry hype from Corporate egg producers who want to kill off the genuine free range sector.

The industry had hoped that he would have some empathy for family farms - but he has continued down the same track as his predecessors in supporting big business.

His comments were echoed by industry vet Dr Peter Scott and by Bede Burke, chair of the NSW Farmers Association Egg Group. But just a couple of years ago, Mr Burke agreed with us that intensive 'free range' was  not in the interests of the industry - or chickens.

He is on record as saying that the Coles' drive for more free range eggs was an animal welfare disater in the making.

Mr Burke told the Tamworth City Times in December 2010 that 'profitability on free range farms was being driven down and they would become intensive open-air factories'. He said it was already happening as Coles demanded more  eggs from suppliers.

"It looks all nice and populist for the consumer, but in reality it is encouraging cowboy operations. Coles demand for free range eggs is encouraging Mickey Mouse operations run with too many birds in bad facilities."

That was Bede Burke's stated view then. Recent events have proved he was right. Wonder what happened to get him to sing a different song now?

Anyway, Here's an interview on ABC Radio Country Hour today:


Poultry Health Vet said...

The comments by the Ministerand others are factually incorrect when a comparative analysis is done on the number of avian influenza outbreaks in Australia between 1976 and 2013. Most avian influenza outbreaks occurred in intensive housing systems. The last 2 outbreaks in 2012 and 2013 were reported in very large free range flocks. The risks of avian influenza in free range should be discussed in the context of the size of the flock and the stocking density.

Dr George Arzey BVSc

freeranger said...

Thanks George, we have been trying for years to get recognition of this - but of course politicians are led by the nose when big industry is involved.
We still hope that sanity will prevail.