Cracking egg labeling – Mythbusting egg labels to help you shop!
Australians take a keen interest in the welfare of animals, and as a country, we are constantly striving to educate ourselves as consumers about the products we purchase. With an increase in people selecting cage-free and free-range eggs, it’s obvious that the health of egg-laying chickens is a concern for many. However, the plethora of labels that are adorning egg cartons makes choosing the highest quality eggs with a higher welfare rating a difficult task. There are currently no national standards regarding the labeling of products in Australia, with the exception of eggs sold in cartons that need to be labeled in accordance with the farm system they are raised in. While this is a great move, there are unclear and possibly misleading terms being used by companies to advertise their products, to appeal to consumers, and even to mislead Australians.
What is a good layer of welfare? Refer to RSPCA Accepted?
Egg-laying hens are naturally friendly and curious birds. To ensure their welfare, they require the space to move about to spread their wings, places to sit, and areas to shower so that they can remain comfortable and healthy. Choosing to purchase RSPCA-approved eggs is the best way to be sure that you’re buying certified high-welfare eggs that are cage-free or free-range hens.
The hens that reside on RSPCA-approved farms are raised in environments that are completely indoors or have access to the outdoors and are regularly assessed to make sure that the RSPCA Standards are being met. At the RSPCA, we are aware that good well-being can be achieved in indoor barns, with the proper facilities for space, adequate lighting, private nest boxes, and enrichment features such as litter for cleaning and perches to roost on. If chickens are allowed access to the outside (free range), this outdoor area should be a high-quality space with shaded areas and plants that encourage chickens to go outside and explore. If you’re RSPCA-approved eggs are from hens in the barn or free-range, you are able to be certain that the farms have complied with the RSPCA’s specific Animal Welfare Standard for hens, which is regularly reviewed.
However, what are the other labels that are found within egg cartons? Here’s how to recognize what they actually mean:
Labelling Terms Cracked.
In Australia, the eggs that are sold in cartons are labeled according to the system of farming that created the eggs (cage barn, cage free-range). One important change is that free-range eggs have been required in recent years to display the density of outdoor stocking on their cartons. However, this alone isn’t necessarily a guarantee of the welfare level.
Cage eggs: Eggs that come from layer hens kept in battery cages that are roughly as big as an A4 sheet of paper. The RSPCA believes that the continued use of cages for barren battery animals is the biggest concern for animal welfare in Australia at present with regard to the sheer number of animals impacted and the extent to which their well-being is harmed. Chickens living in cages that are battery-free endure for their entire lives, are not able to display their natural behavior and suffer from chronic health conditions like osteoporosis as a result of their inactivity, all while standing on the wire. There are also labels on egg cartons, such as “hen coops” and “enriched colony reared,” that create a romantic picture of a tranquil country life for hens. But they’re just different labels for traditional cages (hen coops) or furnished cages (enriched colonies reared). Furnished cages are a step up over conventional cages as they are more spacious and provide some enhancement, but neither cage can meet the physical and behavioral requirements.
Cage-Free/Barn Led: Cage-Free and Barn Laid are two different names for the same kind of farming system. Barn-laid eggs come from hens that are maintained in huge sheds that can move around and nest boxes in which they lay eggs. There aren’t all barns equipped with the best litter or enrichment, and that’s the reason it’s crucial to ask whether the brand is responsible for how the hens are housed in the shed. You can also seek out a reliable third-party certificate with specific publically available standards that describe the housing system, like RSPCA Approved. A well-managed barn can be a great alternative to egg cages, and it also provides chickens with additional protection against the factors, predators, and disease transmission.
Free-RangeHens that live free of confinement have access to outdoor spaces at all times during daylight hours, when the weather permits, and they stay in barns at night with nest boxes where they lay eggs. The phrase “free-range” is frequently interpreted as the most beneficial option for welfare. However, it is important to remember that just having access to outdoor areas isn’t a definitive indicator that the interest of the animals is good. A free-range area will have foraging plants as well as plenty of shelter to encourage chickens to go outside, but there’s no legal requirement for them to be provided. Stocking density in the outdoor area of 10,000 to 15,000 birds/hectare is permissible. There isn’t a requirement in law for free-range farms to be inspected to make sure they are adhering to the legal minimum standards. Even on free-range farms, the hens spend the majority of their time inside; therefore, the condition of their environment indoors is equally important, even which is frequently ignored. This is the reason asking the manufacturer for more information on the system is helpful, as well as looking for third-party certification.
Other labels you could find on eggs free range are organically certified chickens fed organic food free of chemicals and antibiotics that can roam outdoors, certified organic by an organic certification program, and pasture-raised and pasture-raised from hens with access to pastures, and live in smaller caravans that are moved around the paddock.
In the end, you might have seen some popular terms appearing on egg cartons, such as “natural living,” farm fresh’ ‘ no de-beaking, ” and ‘Australian grown’ which give the appearance of eggs originating from a specific kind of farm. These are just buzzwords and are not pertinent to the way hens lived or the conditions of the farms. The eggs that are sold in whole cartons from Australia have been laid within Australia, as well as layer chickens. Layer hens aren’t de-beaked despite the fact that trimming of the beaks is permitted.
If it’s about a future that is based on the well-being of farm animals, egg buyers have a significant impact on their choices. Every purchase of a product from an animal is a vote in favor of the system that made it. Your choices matter, and you are able to voice your support for layer hens whenever you purchase eggs that are more welfare-friendly, such as cage-free, free-range, and RSPCA-approved. You can also help assist Aussie farmers by giving the curious and happy hens the best life possible.