Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Eggs laid to order!

The demand for 'real' free range eggs produced on farms where the hens are free to roam on pasture all day, are kept in small flocks and are not de-beaked is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Some consumers recognise that the big players who claim their eggs are 'free range' are simply taking advantage of a brand image which has little to do with their production methods.
Small scale research among buyers of free range eggs at Farmers' Markets has shown a 100% response to two key questions - the hens must not be de-beaked and they must be allowed to graze on pasture for most of every day.
But to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for 'free range' eggs, the big producers cut corners and have been doing a very successful job.
It's not possible for a small farm like ours, producing only 450 dozen eggs each week to meet the requirements of a supermarket chain, or a major restaurant group.
All our eggs are virtually laid to order and delivered to regular customers within our region. We've had a food miles policy in place for some years which limits our deliveries to within one hour of the farm.
Unfortunately this means that the big operators with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of hens have an opportunity to market their eggs as 'free range' because genuine producers are unable to meet the demands of a mass market.
If consumers are happy buying eggs laid by hens who are de-beaked and kept in huge barns with automatic egg collection systems - that's fine. But they shouldn't be duped into paying more for the eggs because they think the hens are running around grassy paddocks all day!

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