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31 May 2012

Keeping free range free!

Thank you to the Australian Greens for the content in this post.

Buyer beware ... Consumers are being exploited with eggs labelled “free-range” that are not truly free-range, while the the Egg Corporation is proposing to increase free-range stocking from 1,500 to 20,000 birds per hectare!  This is a massive 1233 per cent increase in bird densities on the range. At this stocking rate, free-range hens will be denied their most basic welfare needs.

Due to a complaint from the Humane Society International, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has opened up the proposed standard for comments.  Submissions are required by 20 June 2012 and can be lodged by email to

Meanwhile, the Greens NSW have launched the ‘Truth in Labelling (Free-Range Eggs) Bill 2011′ to prevent producers from misleading consumers about how laying hens are treated

In Queensland it has been law since 2002 that free-range egg farms can keep a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare, but there currently exists no legal definition of free-range egg production systems in NSW.  

Standards vary drastically between how many birds are allowed to be kept in the shed and on the range and whether practices like beak trimming are permitted. When consumers buy “free-range” they often don’t know which standard are buying into.

In this video, Lauren Fitzpatrick reports for The Milk Moustache.

The widely accepted industry voluntary "Model Code of Practice" states that free-range birds must be kept at 1,500 birds per hectare. Because it is a voluntary code it can not be enforced. Some farms are cramming up to 40,000 birds per hectare and claiming to be “free-range.”

The Egg Corporation released a statement in early April this year that 29 per cent of free-range eggs produced in NSW come from farms which stock their hens at densities even greater than 20,000 birds per hectare. In Queensland it has been law since 2002 that free-range egg farms can keep a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare. The demand for free-range eggs has exploded in recent years.  In the year 2010/11 free-range eggs made up 29 per cent of the national market in volume and 41 per cent of the value.  Free-range is big business—last year it made nearly $200 million in retail sales. Take action

The Greens NSW need your support to end the egg rorts and help make the Truth in Labelling Bill law.

  • Only buy eggs that are stamped from accreditation bodies the Free Range Farmers Association Inc. and the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc. 
  • The only way to ensure your free-range eggs come from truly free-range farms is through legislation. The Greens NSW need your support to help make the Greens Truth in Labelling Bill law. Click here to download the petition and get the signatures of your friends, family and colleagues and send it to John Kaye MLC NSW Parliament House Macquarie St Sydney 2000. 
  • The NSW Government needs to hear from all ethical consumers that they want their rights to buy genuine free-range eggs protected. Click here to find your local NSW member. The Greens have put together a step-by-step guide complete with questions to ask your local state representative. 
  • Whether it be at the farmers market, shopping centre or around the dinner table start a conversation about the exploitation of the free-range label and why legislation is needed to protect it.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Glad to find the petition to download. I have been keeping hens for over a year now in my backyard, free range of course. The eggs are fabulous and it is great to see the hens wandering around freely having a happy and safe existence.

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