Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The environment, consumers, farmland and poultry at risk from new 'free range' standards

Consumers, poultry and the environment are being put at risk by new free range egg production standards allowing chickens to be run at stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare. Each adult hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year, so at that density, each hectare of land will be covered by 5000 cubic metres of poultry manure every year - - an unsustainable nutrient load. It’s not only Australia where intensive production is causing concern. In Wales,even though stocking densities are far less than the Australian standard, the nutrient levels are creating widespread concerns because of the potential impact on rivers and wildlife. Wales Online reports that particular concerns have been expressed for mammals like otters and dormice as well as for fish like eels and brown trout. Wildlife officials say “We have a number of concerns, mainly around the sheer number of these units that have been operating, new ones that have been given consent and applications that are in the pipeline. “Whilst nobody objects to farmers wanting to diversify and increase their profitability, there is a worry that the amount of phosphate that comes from chicken manure is damaging to the river system”. Consumers and farmers need to put pressure on politicians to set more realistic standard s in Australia to ensure land sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.

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