Caged eggs not cruel says local producer
A PRODUCER of caged eggs at Mount Morgan says she and her business partners "love and care for (their) hens" and cannot afford the costs associated with going free-range.
Nadine Goody has been a partner in family owned business, Smalls Trading Co (producers of Country Fresh Eggs), since 1974.
Her parents previously owned the company and originally raised free-range chickens.
Nadine said they switched to cage eggs because "there was so much disease in the free-range system, a lot of mortality rates (and) the customer wanted a cheaper product".
Nadine said calls by animal rights lobbyists to ban cage eggs could mean the end of her business.
The RSPCA has come out swinging over the recently released Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry (which remain open for public consultation until February 26).
Animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA had widely expected the draft standards to call for a ban on caged eggs.
The standards will "condemn over 100 million inquisitive, social and intelligent layer hens to lives of abject misery inside barren battery cages ...," RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said.
But Nadine said "it's going to cost $4-5million to go free-range or cage free for the amount of birds we have".
She said her business had, at any one time, about 65,000 birds.
"(The lobbyists are) even talking about 'furnished cages'," Nadine said.
Furnished cages include features like nest boxes and perches to allow chickens a greater range of behavioural expression.
Nadine said the birds kept at her property were kept six to a cage and they were not squashed in and could stand and move about the cage freely.
"It's extra expense to put (enriched cages) here. Our stock would divide by three," she said.
"It has (already) been a major cost to abide by the correct rules. We can't just click our fingers and say we are going to go free-range.
"Three times we've destroyed our cages (to comply with new legislation) and (we've) updated with no compensation."
Nadine said she wanted to show people that the images of sick and injured caged poultry the public sees on TV was far from the whole picture.
"The photos the media are showing (of caged hens) is just so incorrect and misleading. That is a major problem," she said.
The RSPCA were contacted for comment.