Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New SA voluntary egg code

It's great that the South Australian Government is moving to establish a code for egg production in that State which will set a maximum stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare for the free range sector.
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:

The proposed standard for free range egg production in South Australia is an excellent idea given the absence of a Federal initiative to implement a national standard.

In our view the key points of the production standard need to specify:
  • 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
Environmental Guidelines for the egg industry can be found at: http://www.aecl.org.au/assets/Uploads/Resources/Environmental-Guidelines-for-the-Australian-Egg-Industry.pdf

Discussion about beak trimming can be found at:


To provide consumer confidence in the standards an auditing system will need to be introduced for participating farms.

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