You might have been hearing a whole lot of upset generated by the Federal Government’s new 10,000 hens per hectare free range definition. The battle over what constitutes free range was effectively won by large egg producers more focussed on the maximum amount of chickens they could squeeze into a given space as opposed to the adequate amount of space needed to be given to a chicken.
What makes this decision even more disappointing is that the government ignored its own CSIRO scientists whose spent a great deal of time and taxpayers money developing their Model Code of Practice which set free range hen densities at 1500 chickens per hectare. Incidentally our country’s animal welfare peak body The RSPCA also came up with the same number.
What now? Well as of April next year when the new standard kicks in the phrase “free range” will become more like a dodgy real estate agent’s euphemism along the lines of “a cozy modern studio with low maintenance courtyard” i.e. a windowless converted garage with a concrete driveway, than a reliable description for a humane farming practice.
And in case you’d like to know the number of chooks Fair Food egg farmers have in their paddocks, here you go (and in no particular order);
Kelvin and Yumi from Williow Zen run 130 hens per hectare
Dan of Dan’s Free Range has 200 per hectare,
Madelaine’s Organic Eggs 80 chooks per hectare
and Alex and Kali from Abundance Farm Eggs stock their hens at 23 per hectare.