Scrambled eggs and whiskey

Barn, free range, and battery caged eggs, what’s the difference?

Percentages of Battery Caged Eggs to Others (Barn and Free Range Eggs) in New Zealand

According to the amended version of Welfare of Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2005 from the Department of Agriculture, New Zealand, the percentage of battery cages eggs were approximately 92% of the market as of 2007.  Now the majority of eggs produced in New Zealand are battery caged eggs (88%). The rest are free range and barn eggs. These are the current figures according to the Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand website. That is a change of 4% away from caged battery eggs in five year.

Battery cages are an industrial agricultural confinement system used for egg-laying hens.(2)

“The Industry recognises that conventional cages limit birds’ ability to express natural behaviour and has been looking at alternatives for some years. Until the recent development of the colony system (more information below) there has been nothing available that met the objective of improved welfare without pushing eggs beyond the means of the general consumer.”(2)

“In a barn system, birds are kept in a large shed with a litter floor.  There are perches for the birds to sit and sleep on. Nest boxes are provided for the hens to lay their eggs in.”(3)

“Commercial free range farms can range from having a few hundred birds to many thousands.  The larger farms would have birds in a number of flocks.  The sheds are fitted with nest boxes and perches.  The birds have access to outdoors through pop-holes in the walls.”(4)There are no legal standards covering how much outside space each free-range hen must have, how big the flocks can be, the size or number of barn doors, the provision of grassy paddocks and shelter such as trees or shrubs, or whether free-range hens can be bought directly from battery farms. All these standards are instead “recommended” in the Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2005.(5)On 8 February 2011 the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee called for public submissions on the draft.  The draft proposes that cages be phased out and enclosures allow 60 hens to live in one area. The poultry farmers propose the new system to be phased in over 20 years.  We will wait and see what happens.

So the difference would be great or not a lot between the eggs, the chickens and conditions, depending on how the poultry farmer interpreted the Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare. I am less clear on this difference than when I first sought out the answer to my question. However when we look below at the difference in prices for eggs, you can see the desire for the poultry farmers to naturally move in the direction of free range, the price of the egg is more than three times that of the caged cousin. The consumer is happy, the chickens are happy and so are the poultry farmers, a win, win, win.

Worth to note (6):
Caged Farmer Brown Size 6 dozen eggs : NZ$3.29  or NZ$0.27 each
Barn Select Size 6 dozen eggs : NZ$5.90 or NZ$0.49 each
Free Range Frenz Mixed Grade dozen eggs : NZ$7.91 or NZ$0.66 each

I had a fritatta, not scrambled eggs and it was coffee not whiskey: if you want to read more see Hayden Carruth.

Welfare of Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2005 from the Department of Agriculture, New Zealand
(1) Wikipedia, Battery cages
(2)(3)(4) Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand (Inc)
(5) Fairfax NZ News, Eggs not so free range, 30/09/2007
(6) Countdown


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