From cage to free range eggs and hens in Australia

Meanwhile in Sheffield | Huffington Post UK

ACT banning battery hens and cage eggs

The ACT yesterday passed a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury MLA, outlawing the use of cages for egg production and sow stalls.

The discussion around this bill was covered last year by ABC.

New Zealand phasing out battery hen cages

New Zealand has a new code for animal welfare, and is phasing out battery hen cages by 2022 (see also our post from late last year New Zealand phases out Battery Hens). No new cages can be installed, and existing cages are getting phased out.

It’ll still take years, but we reckon it’s an excellent step in the right direction. Australia to follow now?

New Zealand phases out Battery Hens

NZ phases out battery hens, Australia remains cagey…says Lee Rhiannon.

New Zealand’s decision to ban new cage installation from today and phase out the industry by 2022 puts pressure on Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to ensure the 12 million plus battery hens in Australia do not continue to live a cruel existence.

“The responsibility to modernise factory farming to reduce animal cruelty is not on Minister Ludwig’s radar and New Zealand’s announcement shines a light on his sluggish performance,” Senator Rhiannon said. “Condemning hens to live in an area the size of an A4 piece of paper, with no natural light or ventilation is inconsistent with the expectations Australians hold of how animals should be treated. In moving to ban battery cages New Zealand joins Tasmania, the ACT, the EU, Switzerland, Norway and at least seven states in the US. Minister Ludwig should immediately kick-start a long overdue review into the federal poultry ‘Code of Practice’ with the aim of banning battery cages across the nation.”

[Tasmania is already leading the way on this – now for the rest of Australia needs to step up!]

Free range egg petition – CHOICE

Shelf Space and Positioning

It’s been interesting to observe how different shops organise their shelf space differently, even different branches of the same supermarket chain.

For instance, one Coles outlet in Brisbane has a large array of cage eggs at eye height, and their own brand free range eggs (which are actually very competitively priced) reside on the top shelf – with that, the store manager tells shoppers that they find that product less important. Curious, since it’s their own brand which I would presume gives them a bigger cut when sold. It’s also just pain awkward, shorter people just can’t reach that shelf, and even just grabbing a box and checking it for any broken items then potentially having to swap is a nuisance. Time for some ChookLoose PDFs there?

Contrarily, a Coles in a different suburb dedicates over half its shelf space to free range, and currently even has a promotion where and entire head-of-isle space is dedicated to the own brand free range eggs. So that’s a completely different approach by that store.

How the Europeans are Leading

While the European Union is tightening its laws on cages for 2012 and banning them altogether in 2017, several large EU countries have already gone ahead and either already introduced the enhanced legislation locally up to 5 years ago, or are going straight for the complete ban in the near future.

In Australia, we don’t need to wait for legislation from above either. Most farms already offer free range, so us purchasing more is simply a clear market signal. This is the way change happens. Make your local shop sell out of free range – they’ll get the hint very quickly.

Why This Makes a Difference

Together we will make this happen. Why? Because it’s already been done elsewhere.

For instance… years ago already, consumers in The Netherlands started asking cafes, restaurants and supermarkets for free range – almost no shop there now sells cage eggs. It’s a similar story in Germany and other countries.

All this happened in a time well before online social networking, easy downloading, and good quality printers in most homes – so we really have it easy, right?

Introducing ChookLoose! From cage to free range

An Australian cage hen has to live in less space than an A4 sheet of paper. That doesn’t taste right! So let’s vote with our free feet and wallet: from now on, we buy only free range.

The ChookLoose PDFs are free to download, print, distribute and of course for kids to colour in! If you want to put some in a shop, do ask the manager for permission – many shops and supermarkets have already made it clear that they want to get rid of cage eggs, so this helps them achieve that goal.

This initiative has no broader agenda, profit motive or any affiliations.

Please join this very straightforward action, and spread the word to your friends via Twitter, Facebook and other means you have.