Eggs are a favorite food of many Australians. We eat over 15 million eggs a day on average, and the consumption is increasing. While grocery shoppers are increasingly choosing cage-free egg options in supermarkets, the number of Aussie chickens kept in barren battery cages has not decreased. Over 10 million of these intelligent and curious birds are still kept for the entirety of their egg-laying life in empty wire cages. Where are cage eggs going if not into shopping trolleys?

Eight out of ten eggs used for food service or manufacturing are cage-free. This is changing, as many of Australia’s most well-known and largest brands are responding to their customers’ expectations by switching from cage-free eggs.

The ‘ Proud’ brand is leading the pack – they are not small names. McDonald’s Grilled Subway, IKEA, Arnott’s Harris Farm Markets, and others have switched to cage-free egg use. Australia’s leading supermarkets (Coles, ALDI, and Woolworths) have all made public pledges to eliminate cage eggs by 2025.

It may not be very clear to you why we refer to cage-free rather than free-range. In Australia, there are three types of egg production systems: barn-laid, cage, and free-range. Free range and barn-laid are both referred to as ‘cage-free.’ People often think about choosing ethically produced eggs by focusing only on systems that allow hens to access the outdoors when they are thinking of free-range systems. Just because a chicken doesn’t get to go outside doesn’t mean she can’t live a comfortable indoor life. When managed properly, a barn-lay system can provide the same level of welfare as an efficient free-range farm. The indoor environment of hens is important to their interest since they spend so much time in the shed. This applies even to free-range systems. Well-managed barns allow hens to stretch and flap their wings, but most importantly, they can lay their eggs in secluded nest boxes. You can rest assured that hens will be able to do what they love when they are provided with enough space to move on quality litter flooring.

Cage systems are not the same. Hens are packed into cages that have no insulation, and each hen is given less space than an A4 piece of paper. Hens are not only unable to flap their wings or walk, but they also suffer from health problems such as brittle bone and foot issues. The birds are also unable to escape the aggression of their fellow birds. The science has proven that cages are the main cause of hens’ suffering. Barn-laid eggs are a viable alternative to battery cages, given the large volume of eggs that are consumed each day. Barn-laid eggs are often more cost-effective than free-range eggs. Food manufacturers, cafes, catering companies, and quick-service restaurants can also use them.

It won’t be possible to get hens to leave battery cages overnight. But when you support brands that are Proud and Cage-Free, you play a part in bringing about this change. This is the best we can do for these intelligent and quirky creatures.


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