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Farmer Brown Gets Cracking With Colony Eggs

Farmer Brown Gets Cracking With Colony Eggs

Kiwis nationwide now have a greater choice of welfare-friendly, affordable eggs with the launch of Farmer Brown Colony laid eggs in supermarkets this week.

Farmer Brown is the first egg producer in New Zealand to offer Colony laid eggs to New Zealand shoppers throughout the country. At the same time, the company has also launched a Free Range option to provide consumers with access to a full range of quality eggs.

Colony is an improved caged housing system which gives hens more space and increased ability to behave naturally and do the things hens love to do – nesting, scratching, perching and stretching their wings. It has been scientifically evaluated by New Zealand’s National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), as meeting the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act along with Barn and Free Range systems.

The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012, specifies that conventional cages are to be phased out by the end of 2022. They are to be replaced by Colony, Barn or Free Range housing which allows hens to express a range of normal behaviours.

Colonies provide a minimum 750 square cm per bird, and like an ‘open plan’ home, the hens have access to the full area with room to move and interact socially with other hens. They also have freedom of access to reserved areas for nesting, where most hens will lay their eggs each morning.

General Manager of Farmer Brown, Hamish Sutherland, says Colony laid eggs meet quality and welfare requirements whilst remaining good value, which helps maintain the affordability of eggs for all New Zealand consumers.

“We made a deliberate decision to lead the way with Colonies during this phase in period rather than wait until the deadlines. Not everyone has the ability to buy Free Range eggs so providing more choice for consumers, with more welfare-friendly and sustainable options, is an incredibly positive step.

“We are mindful that today standard Cage eggs comprise over 75% of supermarket egg sales so economics remain a key driver for consumers purchasing eggs. Cage eggs are currently New Zealanders’ favourite affordable protein, and they remain an excellent nutritional choice for families.

Farmer Brown are New Zealand’s best-selling eggs so it seemed right to be the first to offer New Zealand shoppers a complete range of quality eggs including the new Colony laid and Free Range options.”

“Welfare is important to consumers (as it is to farmers) and economics is equally important. Our consumers are savvy, like to make up their own minds and don’t like to be told what to do. That’s where choice comes in. We see our job as producing the best quality eggs, in the different housing formats, and making them available to consumers. It is then for consumers to choose – which is the right option for them.”

Recent research*, commissioned by the Egg Producers’ Federation and Farmer Brown showed consumer egg requirements vary depending on their income levels and family size. The types of eggs bought can vary depending on the end use and quantity required. For example, big batches of family baking might mean tray purchases of Cage eggs where entertaining friends for weekend brunch might mean Free Range eggs are purchased.

Egg purchasing behaviour is also affected by life stage – what is right for people when they are single, with high levels of discretionary income, is not necessarily right for them when they are trying to feed growing families on one income. This can change again when children leave home.

*UBER Qualitative Research, August 2013

• Farmer Brown offers consumers a complete range of quality eggs – standard Cage, Colony laid and Free Range eggs.

• Colony is an improved caged housing system which provides increased ability for hens to behave naturally and do the things hens love to do – nesting, scratching, perching and stretching their wings.

• Nesting is a key priority for hens and Colony housing has reserved areas for nesting where most hens will lay their eggs each morning.

• The Colonies are equipped with ‘furnishings’ like nest boxes, perches and scratch pads, which are well used by hens.

• Colonies meet quality and welfare requirements, while also being reasonably priced helping maintain the affordability of eggs for consumers. New Zealand’s National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), a group of welfare experts who provide independent advice to the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Minister, recently evaluated Colonies as providing equivalent welfare to Barn and Free Range systems.

• All Cages must be replaced by 2022 in New Zealand. There is a phase in period and at this stage it is likely the oldest Cage housing will need to be updated by 2018, which will affect between 40 - 50% of Cage egg supply. The phase in timing is presently under review by the Government but the 2022 time frame will not alter.

• New Zealand is coming into line with the UK and the EU where Cage housing has been replaced with Colony, Barn or Free Range housing options. This has been the requirement in these countries since 2012 after a 12 year phase out period.

• There is no legislation in Australia or the USA currently to phase out current Cages, although some states in both countries have differing local requirements.

• Colonies provide a minimum of 750 square cm per hen, and the hens have access to the full area to move, nest and interact socially with other hens.

• Colonies can house between 20-80 hens, which scientific research shows is an ideal number per flock.

• Perching areas are available for resting, which hens use at night and there is a pad for scratching and pecking. As in any egg housing method, food and water are always readily available.

• A continuous moving belt captures and removes manure for hygiene and welfare.

• There is little difference in the physical health of Colony and Free Range hens.

Farmer Brown offers consumers the greatest choice of quality eggs suited to every budget with prices as follows: Standard Cage $0.37 per egg, Colony laid $0.47 per egg and Free Range $0.57 per egg.


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