Free Range Eggs

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BabyChrissy1993
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Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149239Post BabyChrissy1993
Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:18 pm

I was in my GCSE food technology class this morning looking up about free range eggs for my class work. I found this on about three different sites and it shocked me:

Up to 20,000 hens may be housed in a free range egg production unit. This may allow only an area of 1 square metre for 25 hens!!! The birds have access to grass but there may only be one small pop-hole for one bird at a time to go out or come into the unit. When housed in large number the birds may be de-beaked (the end of their beak is clipped) to prevent them from harming one another.


I just wanted too know if this is true because it isn't actually that free range is it?
And how come they clip there beaks when the hens can feel it. That is just cruel putting the poor hens through pain.
Why don't they just think of putting less hens in each unit. Making it free range so they can all get in and out and run about!
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149240Post bodrighy
Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:27 pm

Very simple answer Chrissy....economics. The more birds that they can can rear for the cheapest price the less they can sell them for through the supermarkets and so more people will buy them. I am old enough to remember chicken being a luxury and having it for Christmas. And I am not yet near collecting my pension:lol: You can get standard chickens, approx an A4 sheet of paper per hen barn chickens which are all reared indoors and free range which are what you are describing. Truly free range are a rarity and if you work on a minimum of 1 sq yard per hen that works out at 4,840 hens per acre which is very very little by modern poultry standards

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149241Post Annpan
Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:45 pm

It is very sad isn't it :( But Yes Chrissy, it is true. Organic standards are higher here is a helpful link
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149242Post red
Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:55 pm

if you look at this defra document it gives the stated space required - which is 4 sq m per bird of outside space

also take a look at this welfare info

Unfortunately, there are some 'free range' set ups that are less than ideal, i have seen ex FR birds that look like ex battery hens. buying FR eggs from teh supermarket does not guarrantee ideal conditions - but its an improvement on cages - even better if you can raise your own hens so you know all about their welfare (mine are certainly living normal chicken lives) or get eggs from someone who is
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149258Post grubbysoles
Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:06 am

One of the reasons I have decided to keep hens is that I was going bankrupt buying free range organic eggs in the supermarket, but the organic ones give a much greater chance of the hens having been able to move around. That's another reason why, if you live somewhere fairly rural, it is worth making the extra effort to visit a local farm shop to buy eggs (and lots of other stuff, for that matter) - as you can usually see the hens just mooching around the farm. A pretty good guarantee that they are truly free range!

I used to go to a lovely farm shop where I had to try not to run the chickens over when I drove in. They were all over the place. Unfortunately I moved house, so probably not worth the extra Co2 emissions from my car to go and get the eggs from there now!

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149273Post Annpan
Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:28 am

red wrote:if you look at this defra document it gives the stated space required - which is 4 sq m per bird of outside space

also take a look at this welfare info

Unfortunately, there are some 'free range' set ups that are less than ideal, i have seen ex FR birds that look like ex battery hens. buying FR eggs from teh supermarket does not guarrantee ideal conditions - but its an improvement on cages - even better if you can raise your own hens so you know all about their welfare (mine are certainly living normal chicken lives) or get eggs from someone who is
I couldn't find the 1 bird to 4 sq m, that you mentioned in that document Red.... could you point it out please. It seems like a LOT of space.... I mean a LOT!

The only figures I found was 12 birds to 1 sq m, which seems a grossly inadequate amount of space. :?

But I agree that 'free-range' is certainly not what we all think it should be.
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149277Post Rosendula
Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:56 am

I'd love to have chickens but even if I could persuade my neighbours that it's a good idea, I just don't have the space. The only space I have that is away from the road and doesn't have a brick shed, greenhouse, pond, etc. on is Katie's playing area. The 'top half' of this is about 6' x6', then there's a steep slope about the same dimensions before the 'bottom half' which is about 8'x6' and spends a lot of the winter under water. So even if I steal half of Katie's play area, either the chickens are going to be paddling in winter or Katie is. I just can't work out how to have everything I want.

Excuse me now while I go and sulk. :crybaby:
Rosey xx

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149310Post grubbysoles
Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:51 pm

I know the feeling, Rosendula. We started off with a decent sized garden, which now has a shed, a wendy house, a large greenhouse, a chicken house, a large vegetable patch and various new fruit trees dotted around. My partner wants a pond but we simply MUST leave some play space for the children!! I sometimes wish I could win just enough money on the lottery to buy a house with a bigger garden. I'm not even fussed about a bigger house, just a bigger garden. Then we could get more space and more chickens. And a pond. And some ducks. And perhaps a couple of sheep to mow the lawn... :lol:

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149330Post Penny Lane
Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:03 pm

I feel your grief Rosey! My OH won't let me have hens at home & my plot is nowhere big enough to grow our veg & keep hens :(

I didn't realise FR hens had it that bad! Here's me thinking I was buying eggs from happy hens and they're only marginally happier than barn or caged hens! :shaking:

I buy our dog & cat food from a farm shop, will have to get more than that from there now too.
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149332Post Mr and Mrs luvpie
Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:14 pm

We often feel bad that due to the kids needing some space, and to protect the chickens from the footballs, we ended up building a run for the chickens instead of them having and wrecking the whole garden, there is something in the ground under the apple tree that the chickens wanted, now with them having been penned in for the last 4 months we are starting to see grass slowly come back to this area!

But reading this we now feel a whole load better, our hens must have just over 1 sqm each, there is only 4 of them, they get fresh greens everyday, as have already cleared the pen of grass, and they have bits to climb up on. Although we would love to have them running free completely, I'd rather know how they were being cared for than always wondering if the eggs we got were from a good farm or not!

Oh we also have a system of snacks, anyone who wants extra eggs delivers scraps for them, yesterday we discovered that they didn't like chilli, well we didn't realise that there was some in the scraps pot!!
the ever growing luvpie household currently contains, 4 boys, 4 chickens, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 4 fish, an empty tropical fish tank waiting new arrivals, now are we daft to look at our broody hen thinking, if we got some fertilised eggs........

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149382Post red
Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:54 pm

Annpan wrote:
red wrote:if you look at this defra document it gives the stated space required - which is 4 sq m per bird of outside space

also take a look at this welfare info

Unfortunately, there are some 'free range' set ups that are less than ideal, i have seen ex FR birds that look like ex battery hens. buying FR eggs from teh supermarket does not guarrantee ideal conditions - but its an improvement on cages - even better if you can raise your own hens so you know all about their welfare (mine are certainly living normal chicken lives) or get eggs from someone who is
I couldn't find the 1 bird to 4 sq m, that you mentioned in that document Red.... could you point it out please. It seems like a LOT of space.... I mean a LOT!

The only figures I found was 12 birds to 1 sq m, which seems a grossly inadequate amount of space. :?

But I agree that 'free-range' is certainly not what we all think it should be.
its on page 25

I think (but am not sure) that the figures of 12/sq meter etc refer to housing.
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149383Post red
Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:59 pm

My personal definition of free range is no fences... and we dont do that - because of the healthy fox and badger population around here. we have our hens in a very large run.

by defras guidlines our hens are freerange, as they have considerably more than 4 sq m each.

I work on the principal of seeing my hens are obviously happy and able to do what hens do.. and there is enough space to get away from each other too etc. ( and form their sub groups and bitch about the others etc :wink: )
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149395Post Millymollymandy
Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:27 am

I have about 1 bird per more than 12m2 outside and indoors they have a room which is bigger than your average French bedroom at about 15m2. I have 3 hens. :mrgreen:
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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149396Post JulieSherris
Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:31 am

Chrissy, I think you've reminded us all that not everyone knows just how 'bad' & sometimes cruel food production can be on a large scale.
It's also a good reminder that schools are now teaching our kids where their food is coming from, which is also good...
I can remember having many a hilarious conversation with my girls when they were young - my mum kept a few chickens - and the girls were looking for the part of the chicken that chicken nuggets came from... :oops: :mrgreen:

Mind, I also persuaded my youngest that there was a certain fish that had large fingers.....

It's a lovely sight to see my little granddaughter (age 5) going around the garden & pointing out different flowers & herbs by name - ask her to gather some sage & rosemary & off she goes - it was her that found our inherited strawberries behind the old cottage - and I'd missed them totally!

I still chuckle when I think of the article about raising pigs for meat - and the woman didn't realise she'd have to have the pig killed before she could have bacon/chops...... :shock:

Back to chickens - now we've decided to house ours in the derelict cottage, they'll have a room which is 13ft x 10 ft & an enclosure about double that... we're starting with about 5 birds.... but that figure will expand in no time, I'm sure!! :mrgreen:
The more people I meet, the more I like my garden :wink:

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Re: Free Range Eggs

Post: # 149410Post Annpan
Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:02 am

red wrote:
Annpan wrote:
red wrote:if you look at this defra document it gives the stated space required - which is 4 sq m per bird of outside space

also take a look at this welfare info

Unfortunately, there are some 'free range' set ups that are less than ideal, i have seen ex FR birds that look like ex battery hens. buying FR eggs from teh supermarket does not guarrantee ideal conditions - but its an improvement on cages - even better if you can raise your own hens so you know all about their welfare (mine are certainly living normal chicken lives) or get eggs from someone who is
I couldn't find the 1 bird to 4 sq m, that you mentioned in that document Red.... could you point it out please. It seems like a LOT of space.... I mean a LOT!

The only figures I found was 12 birds to 1 sq m, which seems a grossly inadequate amount of space. :?

But I agree that 'free-range' is certainly not what we all think it should be.
its on page 25

I think (but am not sure) that the figures of 12/sq meter etc refer to housing.
Yes, I found it, thankyou.

Well my birds will have 3m2 between the 2 of them in a moveable run/chook tractor and their house is built on a pallet so 1 m2... I had gone by the sizes available in the shops, egglu, etc are a bit smaller (I think) I am hoping the ladies will be able to roam freely around sections of the garden when I am out there... but I'll have to play it by ear.
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some days you're the lamp-post"

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