Australian Egg Corporation Purposely Misrepresents Study for Own Gain
Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) have based an increase in stocking densities for free range hens to 20,000 per hectare based on a study by the Avian Science Research Centre in Scotland.
The study, entitled “Behavioural responses to different floor space allowances in small groups of laying hens”, is just that; a study of space allowances for hens kept indoors, not in a free range environment.
The study does make reference to free range hens but only when it acknowledges that outdoor allowances in the EU is 40,000 cm2 per bird, an equivalent of 2,500 birds per hectare.
The Scottish Research Centre has confirmed to us that this study relates only to indoor hens and that conclusions about free range stocking densities cannot be drawn from this study without alteration and considerable research on what is acceptable outdoors to back it up.
What this study does tell us is that we should be reducing indoor stocking densities for Australian flocks from a currently allowable 15 to just 2 birds per square metre.
Unfortunately we don’t believe that AECL will be as keen to adopt the findings of this study to address stocking densities for intensively housed sheds as this would severely impact on the profits of the large cage and barn producers, the same producers in many instances that are behind the push to increase free range densities.
This is an embarrassing situation for AECL but signals just what lengths they will go to to secure the free range industry for their larger members without any regard for the consumer, the environment or the true free range farmer.
AECL have now attempted to reinvent the intent and meaning of not only the Model Code of Practice with their erroneous interpretations, but now they have done the same to science, the very foundation they claim to base the egg industry’s practices on.