Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coles 'free range' standard

Well the Coles standard for its version of free range eggs is now up and running - have a look at this Coles facebook page.  It allows an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare but there has been no science produced to demonstrate that such a high density has any animal welfare benefits or is a sustainable method of production.
The hens on those production facilities will almost certainly all be beak trimmed to control aggression generated by over-crowding. The nutrient build up on the land around the production sheds will be huge. Each hen excretes half a cubic metre of manure a year - so 10,000 hens per hectare equals 5000 cubic metres of manure.
Unless those hens are locked in their sheds (and of course they won't be as they are called 'free range'!!!!) the contamination of the land has the potential to generate serious health issues - for the chooks as well as consumers.  And that's before we look at land sustainability.
It's all those reasons which were taken into account when the Model Code was developed which established an absolute maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare.

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