Come and see us at The Edible Garden Show
Once again we are delighted to be attending The Edible Garden Show from the 15th to 17th March at Stoneleigh Park.
This fantastic three-day event is firmly established in the gardening calendar as the only national show dedicated to growing your own fruit, vegetables and home produce. Attracting visitors and exhibitors from around the UK this is an event not to be missed.
Come and see us on Stand 212, in Hall 2, where our friendly team of nutritionists and sales managers will be on hand to answer all your feeding queries. The BHWT (British Hen Welfare Trust) will also be joining us with a few of their feathered friends!
Find out more about what this show has to offer at www.theediblegardenshow.co.uk
Winter tips for your poultry
Here are some of our top tips for keeping your poultry healthy through the cold spell.
• Use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on extremities such as their comb to help to prevent frost bite
• Make sure they have access to clean fresh water and check regularly to make sure it is not frozen
• Provide a feed with quality protein sources, this is particularly important if they are going through the moult
• Ensure a complete balanced diet is provided - even if your hens are not laying, they still need quality nutrition for good health
• To make sure your hens are getting the right balance of nutrients, only feed treats in the afternoon after they have eaten their complete feed and no more than around 20g (an egg cup full), per bird
• Make sure there is shelter in their run for protection from the elements
• Ensure the run isn’t poached and muddy – untreated bark on the ground can help to prevent this
• Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the hen house
• Don’t forget to make sure worming is kept up to date
The Smallholder Range continues to support the British Hen Welfare Trust
The Smallholder Range continues to support the valuable work of the British Hen Welfare Trust with it’s Ex-Bats Range. For the sale of every bag of Ex-Bats Pellets or Ex-Bats Crumb, the Smallholder Range gives 50p for every 20kg bag and 20p for every 5kg bag.
To find out more about the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust visit http://www.bhwt.org.uk/
or to buy the Ex-Bats Range on-line visit www.animalfeedstore.com/Small-Holder-Range/Ex-Bats-Pellets.aspx
New 5kg Natural Free Range Layers Crumble Launched!
The Smallholder Range has launched its Natural Free Range Layers Crumble in convenient 5kg bags, perfect for people with just a few chickens. The new 5kg bag will also bare a fresh new design.
Made as a Meal / Crumble, this feed helps to prevent selective feeding and creates less dust and waste than a regular meal / mash. Although with fresh new look packaging and a handy new bag size, Natural Free Range Layers Crumble is the same great tried and trusted feed, providing a complete, nutritionally balanced diet, for healthy hens.
Formulated from quality Non-GM ingredients and with added Omega 3, Natural Free Range Layers Crumble contains no artificial colours and is Vegetarian Society Approved. Boosted with vitamins and minerals, this feed provides everything hens need for optimum health all year round.
To order a new 5kg Natural Free Range Layers Cumble, click here!
Come and see us at Royal Norfolk
The Royal Norfolk Show is the country's biggest two-day agricultural show – and once again we will be there on stand 470, Avenue 16 to give you expert feeding advice.
On Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th June, you can enjoy a great family day out with 10 hours of entertainment each day from spectacular Grand Ring displays, traditional livestock and equine classes, to a live music stage, celebrity guests and over 650 stands for those who love shopping.
For friendly feeding advice, come along to the stand at this great show and speak to one of the nutritionists or sales managers. Find out more about what this show has to offer at www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk
The Smallholder Range Goes Solar
The Smallholder Range is delighted to announce the installation of solar panels to its Norfolk mill. This is an exciting step forward and aligns with the company’s ethos of reducing the environmental impact of the business.
The Smallholder Range is constantly aware of the impact it has on the environment and the responsibility it has to produce feeds in the greenest way possible. The state-of-the-art mill in the heart of the Norfolk countryside is already highly efficient but the new solar energy source is a big step forward to further reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Over the course of a year the new solar panels will generate thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity, avoiding over 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to around 100,000 miles in a family car or 800,000 kettles full of boiling water!
The solar photovoltaic system has been installed by East Anglian company Mosscliff Environmental, which is renowned for its renewable energy solutions for homes and businesses. The panels have been mounted on the roof of the mill and make the most of the high levels of sunlight in the region.
Visit us at the Royal Cornwall Show
The Allen & Page stand will be at the Royal Cornwall Show from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th June 2012, so come along and see us.
There’s something for every member of the family at the Royal Cornwall Show. It’s the county’s biggest annual event and is brim-full of exhibits and activities which offer so much in the way of entertainment, competition, information, shopping and all that’s best in food and farming.
Show classes and displays encorporate a whole range of creatures great and small, from horses and cattle down to birds and bees.
The Allen & Page team will be on hand throughout the show to discuss feeding your animals, providing nutritional information and advice, so come along with your questions to see how we can help.
New Spring PromotionGet a little extra with Natural Free Range Layers Pellets
Smallholder Range, Natural Free Range Layers Pellets – New sack, same great feed and now with a free sample of Super Mixed Corn inside every bag.
This spring, a fresh new look for Natural Free Range Layers Pellets hides a great little extra – inside every bag you will find a free sample of Super Mixed Corn so you can now treat your hens as well as feeding them a complete balanced feed.
Although with fresh new look packaging, Natural Free Range Layers Pellets is the same great tried and trusted feed, providing a complete, nutritionally balanced diet, for healthy alert hens. Made from quality Non-GM ingredients and with added Omega 3, Natural Free Range Layers Pellets contains no artificial colours and is Vegetarian Society Approved. Boosted with vitamins and minerals, Natural Free Range Layers Pellets provides everything your hens need for optimum health all year round.
Natural Free Range Layers Pellets provides an excellent diet for hens – but why not feed a little treat in the afternoon too? Containing Non-GM wheat, maize, peas and with added calcium and grit, Super Mixed Corn encourages hens to peck and provides a healthy and nutritious treat. For good strong egg shells and optimum nutrition, treats should only be fed in the afternoon, after your chickens have eaten their pellets and no more than an egg cup full (around 20g) for each bird should be given.
To find out more about this new promotion or to request a free factsheet on feeding your hens click here.
Go free range for pancake day
Today is pancake day so make sure that when you're making up your batter you remember battery hens and go free range instead.
The Smallholder Range is proud to support the British Hen Welfare Trust www.bhwt.org.uk
a charity that campaigns for better hen welfare and rehomes hundreds of ex-battery hens each year. With all eyes on pancakes today, it is important that free range eggs are chosen - not only do they taste better but they also ensure hens have had a good quality of life. And if you're short of time and buying pre-made pancakes, check the packaging to ensure the eggs used are also free range.
If you're lucky enough to have your own hens, feeding a healthy, complete and balanced feed such as Smallholder Range Natural Free Range Layers Pellets will ensure wonderful eggs with a golden yollk. For ex-battery hens the specially formulated Ex-Bat Crumbs or Pellets will do the trick.
ADAS Goat Welfare Meetings
ADAS is inviting people to the first Defra-funded meetings for goat keepers designed to provide practical and technical advice to increase the health and welfare of the goat herd in England.
This series of six meetings through February provide health and welfare workshops for goat keepers across the country.
Goats are susceptible to a number of health and welfare problems – the more important of which will be covered at these evening events:
1. The Goats Welfare needs in 2012 (David Harwood BVetMed, MRCVS and Honorary veterinary surgeon to the British Goat Society,)
2. Kid Rearing – Importance of Attention to Detail (Sue Smith/ Dreda Randall – independent specialist goat producers)
3. Goat Health (David Harwood BVetMed, MRCVS,)
b. Internal and external parasites
4. Discussion panel
In addition, the panel will further discuss any husbandry practices that can impact on goat welfare such as ear tagging and disbudding.
Evening workshops (7 pm to 9.30 pm) will be held throughout February 2012; and are free to all commercial, and small scale goat keepers. Places are however limited and must be pre-booked. Workshop details:
1st February 2012, Launceston
2nd February 2012, Shepton Mallet
8th February 2012, Worcester
9th February 2012, Peterborough
15th February 2012, Sheffield
16th February 2012, Durham
ADAS Livestock Consultant Odelle Walker says: "ADAS have campaigned hard for funded meetings for the minority livestock sector and the levels of attendance and the feedback received will be reviewed and details will be submitted to Defra at the end of this series. We would really like as many people as possible to attend in order to make these sessions a success."
If you are interested in attending please contact Georgie Fomes on 01354 697200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas Cheer For Battery Hens?
The British Hen Welfare Trust has issued an urgent plea to the public to re-home some hens for Christmas.
From January 2012, the barren ‘battery’ cage will be abolished in the UK in line with the EU directive. As a result, hens will have to be removed from their barren cages by 31st December. Most British egg farmers have already made the switch to enriched cages, but a further 2-4 million hens currently in barren cages will still be heading for slaughter this Christmas.
The British Hen Welfare Trust, which has so far re-homed nearly 300,000 commercial laying hens, aims to educate the public about how they can make a difference to hen welfare, and encourages support for the British egg industry. It has already secured access to thousands of hens from farms in the run up to Christmas and is appealing to the public to provide homes for them.
With a network of volunteer co-ordinators across the UK, the charity will be holding a series of re-homing days over November and December in locations spanning from Cornwall to Northumberland in England, across into Wales.
Founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust Jane Howorth said: “Whilst it is great news that the era of barren cages is coming to an end, the sad news is that many of the hens who have lived all their life in barren cages will be sent to slaughter by Christmas, unless we can find homes for them.”
More and more households are taking up hen-keeping as a hobby that all the family can enjoy. Giving a happy home to ex-battery hens can be particularly rewarding - from the pleasure of seeing the hens experience their first taste of sunshine and grass, to the joy of collecting freshly laid eggs! Keeping hens requires time, but it isn’t difficult. The hens come fully vaccinated and the vast majority are healthy and laying reasonably well. The hens sometimes look a bit threadbare, but most people are surprised that the majority of birds don't look too bad and they usually start to re-feather within a few weeks. The hens are bred for docility and you will find they are gentle, endearing, inquisitive and very friendly. And they are hardy birds, so as long as a few simple steps are taken to ensure they have good weather protection, they are fine to be kept in the winter months.
All you need is an outbuilding or chicken house or coop that is predator-proof, and a regular supply of food and water. The British Hen Welfare Trust’s Careline and website are on hand to offer information and guidance.
Jane Howorth concluded: “If you are interested in re-homing some hens, we would love to hear from you. All our re-homing locations and dates can be found on our website. Christmas is traditionally a busy time for family festivities, and keeping hens isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds at this time of year. But consider it as a fun new hobby for Christmas for all the family. By adopting some hens, you will be giving them – and your family – the best Christmas present they have ever had!”
To find out more about re-homing, hen sponsorship and the benefits of free-ranging, please contact the British Hen Welfare Trust on:
email email@example.com , log on to www.bhwt.org.uk or tel: 01769 580310
New BHWT survey reveals changing egg-buying habits
For many years, consumers have become accustomed to the idea that when it comes to eggs, ‘brown are best’. But why? Results of a survey into the habits and preferences of 1700 chicken-keepers interviewed by the British Hen Welfare Trust, revealed that 85% of respondents don’t actually mind what colour their eggs are. Indeed, 95% said the colour made no difference at all to taste, and a mere 13% expressed a preference for brown eggs.
So why do consumers demand brown eggs?
The reason why free-range hens can sometimes lay pale shelled eggs is not fully understood, but one theory suggests that it is linked to a hen’s exposure to strong sunlight. Whilst white eggs are commonplace overseas, they are deemed to be ‘substandard’ by the UK food industry, and end up being downgraded, resulting in financial loss for free-range egg farmers. According to The BHWT survey, the taste is unaffected and pale eggs are not an issue. Retailers take note!
The national survey also revealed that over 81% of respondents read food labelling on processed food products, and a staggering 98% want to see improved labelling specifying country of origin and production method used. When eating out, 95% of people said it mattered to them to know if the food they were tucking into contained eggs from caged hens, and whilst not everyone would feel comfortable asking about the provenance of the eggs every time, a whopping 98% said it would support establishments that used British free range eggs.
The British Hen Welfare Trust, which headed up the survey, is a national charity that re-homes commercial laying hens, educates the public about how they can make a difference to hen welfare, and encourages support for the British egg industry. The survey explored all aspects of hen-keeping, from feeding and laying habits to predation and veterinary care. But it was the response to buying and eating habits that most surprised the charity’s Founder, Jane Howorth: “It is wonderful to know that hen-keepers across the country are real ambassadors for free-range eggs – not just in their own back yard, but in shops and restaurants too. And these people are spreading the word amongst friends, family and neighbours about the importance of insisting on free-range eggs, not just in shell eggs, but in all the food we buy containing egg products."
In fact it is estimated that in the UK, 60% of eggs produced by caged hens are consumed in the form of every day processed food, such as mayonnaise, cakes, pancakes, pasta, ready meals, quiche, ice-cream and confectionary.
Of the three billion eggs that are processed every year (taken out of their shells and sold as liquid egg in the food industry), around 80% are being used by processed food manufacturers, and the remaining 20% end up in the food service sector - restaurants, pubs, takeaways etc. Approximately one billion of these eggs are currently imported from overseas.
As new measures come into force from January 2012 that will make barren (battery) cages illegal in the EU, egg farmers will be obliged to replace them with ‘enriched cages’ which house up to 90 birds. British farmers are ready for this change – but many countries will not be ready, and there is a risk that illegal caged eggs from non-compliant countries will still be imported, putting British farmers at a disadvantage.
Jane Howorth said: “We don’t consider the enriched cage to be as high welfare as free range and organic systems. However, it is an improvement over the current battery cage system and we would rather people buy British eggs rather than imported battery eggs from outside the EU where welfare is out of our control."
She concluded: “Whilst the survey we carried out was amongst hen-keepers, we are very encouraged by the general findings. As more and more people become aware about the use of eggs as ingredients in processed foods, and insist on higher welfare, this can only be good news for the British free range egg industry. And of course the hens that provide the food on our table in the first place."
The British Hen Welfare Trust is a national charity that re-homes commercial laying hens, educates the public about how they can make a difference to hen welfare, and encourages support for the British egg industry. Its ultimate aim is to see consumers and food manufacturers buying only UK produced free range eggs, resulting in a strong British egg industry where all commercial laying hens enjoy a good quality life.
To find out more or to support the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust please email firstname.lastname@example.org, log on to www.bhwt.org.uk
or tel: 01769 580310Jane Howorth, Founder of British Hen Welfare Trust
Discover Organic this September
This September the Soil Association is celebrating a month long festival of all things organic, with events taking place across the country.
The Soil Association promotes healthy soil, healthy people and a healthy planet - add healthy animals into the mix and you can see why The Smallholder Range and The Organic Feed Company support this organisation. There are lots of ways to celebrate Organic September, from visiting an organic farm, eating in an organic restaurant or learning a new skill to discover an organic way of life.
To find out more about what's going on in your area visit the website at www.soilassociation.org
, follow them on Twitter @SoilAssociation or find them on Facebook.
Smallholder Range has new fact sheets
The Smallholder Range has teamed up with Smallholder Magazine
to present a series of informative fact sheets on a variety of subjects.
Starting in the most recent August edition of Smallholder, the first cut-out-and-keep fact sheet highlights the problem of laminitis in horses, ponies and donkeys and provides some tips for prevention.
As the grass has a new flush of growth into the autumn, laminitis is a real problem for equines, who can suffer form the excess sugar stored in the grass during growth periods. However, some simple management techniques can help prevent this potentially deadly condition, helping smallholders to manage their stock better. The fact sheets also provide information on what to look for if you suspect your horse or donkey could have laminitis, and the steps you must take to help.
RWAS Smallholder & Garden Festival proved popular
More than 26,000 people enjoyed a great weekend of livestock, farming heritage, dogs shows and flowers on the weekend of 21st and 22nd May, and The Smallholder Range was there to give out feeding advice too.
With so much on offer to suit everyone, the Royal Welsh Smallholder and Garden Festival certainly drew in the crowds. One of the interesting features of the Festival are the many workshops, talks and question and answer sessions on smallholding, horticultural, environmental and countryside matters, providing informtaion for anyone keen to take up a country way of life. With the emphasis on greener, sustainable living, interest in the Allen & Page stand was good, thanks to The Smallholder Range's completely natural and non-GM animal feeds. With the 'Healthy Hens, Wonderful Eggs' challenge also proving popular, the nutrition and sales team manning the stand were certainly kept busy. Marketing Manager Clara Baillie-Lane says: "This year's show was a great success and we had a lot of interest in our range of feed for a variety of smallholding animals. We pride ourselves on offering top quality advice so that the animals stay happy and healthy, with a good diet forming a solid bedrock for all round health."
More information and a full report of this year's show can be found in the next issue of Smallholder Magazine or read online news at www.smallholder.co.ukTo find out where The Smallholder Range stand is going next visit our calendar page.
Magic Milestone for Hen Welfare Charity
The Smallholder Range was proud to be at an event marking a major milestone in the British Hen Welfare Trust’s history. The hard working charity celebrated the re-homing of its 250,000th ex-battery hen on Saturday 16th April. The lucky hen was named ‘Kate’ – in honour of Kate Middleton – to mark the historic event!
The Smallholder Range works with the British Hen Welfare Trust supporting their fantastic work and Area Sales Manager Davina Hardiman attended the event to see the charity’s founder Jane Howarth present the hen to new owners the Dawson family from North Devon. Davina said: “It was a fantastic event and everyone there was very excited. The Dawson family were lovely and were very pleased to receive the 250,0000th hen. We also presented the Dawson family with a sack of The Smallholder Range, Ex-Bat Crumbs. Specially formulated to meet the increased nutritional needs of ex-battery hens, Ex-Bat Crumbs will give Kate the very best start to her new life.”
Jane Howarth added: “I’m over the moon that the charity has grown so much over the last six years; the support of the British public has been phenomenal. It just goes to show how much we, as a nation, care about welfare and about how the food we eat is produced. The challenge now is to spread the word so that people actively choose free-range eggs when doing their grocery shopping – not only by buying free-range eggs, but also by searching for free-range eggs in processed food, like ice-cream, quiche, ready meals and cakes. Reading food labels and only choosing free range can make a big difference to the quality of life for hens like Kate.”
To find out more or to support the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust just click here!
Davina and Jane with the Dawson family -photo courtesy of British Hen Welfare Trust
Looking for a challenge this Easter?
Easter is fast approaching and if you like to celebrate all things 'egg-cellent', why not take part in our 'Healthy Hens, Wonderful Eggs' Challenge?
To reap the rewards and enjoy wonderful eggs, all you need to do is feed your hens Natural Free Range Layers Pellets for four weeks – we're so sure you will notice an improvement that we will give everyone taking the challenge £6 worth of feed vouchers. Healthy hens, wonderful eggs
Natural Free Range Layers Pellets from The Smallholder Range provides a completely natural, balanced and healthy diet for laying hens, helping them produce truly wonderful eggs. But what makes Natural Free Range Layers Pellets different?
• Omega 3 – The Smallholder Range adds linseed which has been shown to increase omega 3 in eggs.
• Strong Shells – The Smallholder Range includes vitamins and minerals to provide a complete balanced diet.
• No Artificial Colours – The Smallholder Range only includes natural ingredients resulting in eggs with lovely golden yolks and a deep rich taste.
• Non-GM Ingredients – The Smallholder Range only uses the highest standard of non-GM ingredients.
• No Hexane – The Smallholder Range does not use chemically extracted ingredients.
• Drug-Free – all feed is produced in The Smallholder Range’s own drug-free mill. Take the challenge
To take part in the ‘Healthy Hens, Wonderful Eggs’ challenge just contact the nutrition team on 01362 822902
or request an entry form here
. You will be sent the form along with your first £3 voucher. Simply feed your hens on Natural Free Range Layers Pellets for four weeks and return your completed entry form with photos of your chickens, explaining the differences you have noticed. Once your completed form is received you will be sent your second £3 voucher.
If you find yourself far too busy this Easter, don't panic, because you have until 31st July to request your entry form and until 30th September to return it - and don't forget to take some photos of your hens.
Events calendar 2011
We once more have a full calendar of events for this year and we will be taking The Smallholder Feed to some exciting shows around the country.
We will be offering nutritional advice for a variety of animals as well as tips on animal care and husbandry. So if you're going to one of the big country shows this year, come and find our stand for some helpful advice.
To see the full list of events click here.
New Guide to Ex-Battery Hen Care
As more people are choosing to re-home battery hens, the Smallholder Range has noticed an increase in calls to its helpline. Run by the Smallholder Range, The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) Careline, affectionately known as the BAT line, provides a huge range of information on all aspects of keeping hens and there are now more people than ever asking for help with basic care.
In response, The Smallholder Range has launched a brand new booklet that provides a handy guide to keeping ex-battery hens, perfect for first time poultry keepers or those unused to the needs of ex-commercial layers. The guide covers basic care, housing, land, nutritional requirements and a guide to chicken healthcare, making it easy for first time chicken keepers to settle in their ex-battery hens.
For a free copy of ‘Ex-Battery & Ex-Barn Hens: An Easy Guide To Care’, or information on the Ex-Bats Range of feeds call the BHWT Careline on 01362 822904 or email email@example.com
Come to The Edible Garden Show
Come and see The Smallholder Range and The Organic Feed Company at a brand new show – The Edible Garden Show.
Taking place on 18–20th March 20111 at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, The Edible Garden Show is an exciting new national gardening show that has been launched amid the phenomenal explosion of interest in ‘Grow Your Own’ and smallholding. The gathering will be must-see event for seasoned gardeners and complete novices alike, providing a wealth of information for anyone interested in grow-your-own, rear-your-own, healthy eating, organic food and living The Good Life! Nestled among the choice selection of seminars and practical demonstrations, Allen & Page will be on hand with The Smallholder Range and The Organic Feed Company products to give advice on feeding your animals the natural or organic way. Come and see us at stand 126 in hall 2.
Supporting Cotswold Chickens Beginners Course
The Smallholder Range is pleased to support Cotswold Chickens and is offering everyone attending a beginner's course a £3 voucher for poultry feed.
The chicken-keeping courses provide a great introduction to keeping poultry, whether in your garden or on a smallholding. The friendly courses also include a goody bag stuffed with useful items as well as a £3 voucher for feed from the Smallholder Range or the Organic Feed Company. Find out more at www.cotswoldchickens.com
Smallholder Range is completely safe
Following news of a potential risk of dioxin contamination in pig and poultry feed in Germany, The Smallholder Range would like to reassure customers that all feeds in the range are completely safe and free from dioxins - guaranteed.
The Smallholder Range provides safe, GM-free feeds that do not use chemical or medicinal additives and thanks to full product traceability, you can be sure that all feeds are free from dioxin contamination.
If you have any concerns please call our friendly helpline on 01362 822902.
New TV series puts the spotlight back on 'The Good Life'
Smallholders all over the country know that living off the land is alive and well, but a new TV series to celebrate the 35th anniversary of TV sitcom 'The Good Life' is raising awareness of suburban self-sufficiency once more.
BBC2's new three-part series 'Giles and Sue Live the Good Life' sees writer and food critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins step back to 1975 to try to learn some self-sufficient skills and techniques. Although not living the life round the clock, the duo throw themselves in to recreating a distinctly Tom and Barbara lifestyle, learning some of the skills and techniques in order to find out what it takes to make the dream a reality. Based in an ordinary suburban street, and inspired by archive clips of the comedy, during the series Giles and Sue try to recreate the Good’s world – from growing vegetables in the garden and grazing goats in the local park, to attempting to generate alternative energy supplies. They’ll seek advice from experts when needed, but most of the time they’ll try to find their own answers to everything, from carrot blight to how to treat a nasty outbreak of chicken mite. The original series is beloved of many and inspired people to give self-sufficiency a go. This new series shows that the smallholder lifestyle is experiencing a modern renaissance and soon maybe every back garden will have a chicken coop or two!
Ark Winners Celebrate
Three lucky poultry keepers are celebrating after winning their very own luxury Forsham Poultry Arks in the Smallholder Range’s Golden Egg competition.
From March this year, promotional sacks of Natural Free Range Layers Pellets potentially contained golden eggs, with promises of prizes galore, from books to arks. Mr P Butcher, Mr Michael Jones and Mr John Finnamore discovered their special prize-winning eggs contained a Forsham Poultry Ark, the chicken’s stylish home of choice! Mr Finnamore explained: “It’s a really nice ark so I’m pleased. I’ve got about 15 chickens and half a dozen ducks that we keep in our large back garden and we love the eggs.” Mr Finnamore bought the winning sack of food from local store Prince Farms in Kings Bromley.
National Wool Week
The first ever National Wool Week is taking place this week, (October 11-17). Celebrating all things woolen, from sheep to jumpers, Wool Week brings together a series of partnerships from manufacturing to retail and wool communities and from all across the UK.
“It is a huge promotion of wool and it is wonderful that so many have put their energy and power behind it,” said Ian Hartley, CEO at the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB).
The catalyst for the week long promotion is the Campaign for Wool (CfW), a five-year cross industry initiative convened by HRH The Prince of Wales in January this year. Now the official Patron of the CfW, the Prince has brought attention to the global issues facing the global wool organisations and the sheep farmer. At the same his support has levied the natural sustainable properties of wool to reposition it within the retail sector and with the consumer. British Wool, which marketed through auction 29 million kilos last season from 50,000 producers, has seen prices rise over the last ten months and whilst there are other factors which affect the industry Mr Hartley is clear that wool has been given a trend opportunity like no other. “The CfW has repositioned wool within fashion, pushed it up the consumer’s green agenda and firmly advanced its position within interiors. The aim is to give it lifestyle status which prompts greater understanding of its properties and a marked understanding of its value.
The Smallholder Range offers a range of feeds suitable for sheep, so if you fancy keeping a few of these woolly wonders to attempt to spin your own yarn and knit your own jumpers, check out the range available here
Search for alternatives if hay stocks dwindle
A dry spring has resulted in a shortage of hay and when you factor in a shortage of carry-over stock because of a wet summer last year, hay prices are reportedly now between 20% and 40% higher than last year.
If you’re struggling to secure a good stock of hay or are worried about its quality, then perhaps it’s time to shift the focus onto The Smallholder Range. Good grass and forage should form the main part of the diet for cattle, sheep and goats but you can ensure your animals receive a balanced diet with all the nutrients required for health and wellbeing by supplementing with a suitable pellet or mix feed.
If you’re unsure about the impact of the hay shortage on your animals or just need some advice to make sure they’re getting the best nutrition, then contact us
. With a staff of experts and innumerable friends in the business, we are pretty confident that we can answer just about any query you have.
The Royal Norfolk Show
The Allen & Page stand at the Royal Norfolk Show is a great place to find out more about the Smallholder Range. This fantastic event is local to the Shipdham-based company and provides a great opportunity for the team to help you out with your feeding queries. The Royal Norfolk Show takes place on 30th June & 1st July on the Norfolk Showground and is the largest two-day agricultural show in the country. The show is packed with events to interest everyone; from the latest farm machinery and livestock to sampling some of Norfolk’s finest produce.
For those of you with a passion for poultry, the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) will be on the stand to talk about their work with re-homing ex-battery hens. The group will bring along some of their feathered friends too, so why not come along to stand 465, avenue 16 to have a look?
Hundreds of prizes still to be won!
Congratulations to Clive Bowell - winner of two tickets for the ‘All about Chickens’ course at the famous River Cottage in Devon.
Clive is one of many who have found a golden egg hiding in their sack of Natural Free Range Layers Pellets, our claim line rings frequently as another lucky customer finds a Golden Egg containing a fabulous poultry prize.
So far, winners have claimed: 1 Galvanised Poultry Feeder, 2 Galvanised Poultry Drinkers, 4 ‘Choosing & Keeping Chickens’ books, 39 feed vouchers, 5 Organic egg trays, 1 Fancy Fowl Magazine subscription, 1 Brinsea Mini Eco Incubator and 1 set of tickets to a River Cottage course.
There are still literally hundreds of prizes to be won. All you need to do is pop down to your local feed merchant to pick up a sack of Natural Free Range Layers Pellets and check for a Golden Egg inside.
Clive and Judith Bowell with Emily and duck Bentley, Alex with chicken Gloria and eldest son James alongside some of the team at AE James in Bristol where the prize-winning sack was purchased
Success for the Smallholder Festival
Thousands of people visited the Smallholder and Garden Festival at Builth Wells over the weekend, enjoying a mixture of animals, events and spectacles.
From falcons to folk dance the festival was a real success, with thousands of people enjoying the mixture of farm animals, horticulture and events. The Smallholder Range stand was very busy, with nutritional advisers giving out plenty of good advice on feeding a range of animals. Several new features appeared at this year’s show, among them scurry driving, blacksmithing and farriery competitions, making it a fantastic weekend for all.
Job opportunity at Allen & Page
Allen & Page has an opportunity for a talented and enthusiastic Area Sales Manager to cover the South West and Wales areas. The ideal candidate will be based in the Bristol/Somerset area and be target driven, self motivated and passionate about feeding animals naturally. To find out more and to download a job description and application form click here.
Closing date for applications: Friday 28th May 2010.
Welfare charity re-brand
The British Hen Welfare Trust has recently consolidated its position as the leading hen welfare charity that works to promote a strong British free range egg industry. Formerly known as the “Battery Hen Welfare Trust”, it has recently undergone a name change and re-brand to more accurately reflect the organisation’s wider scope.
Now called the British Hen Welfare Trust, the charity is well-known for its level-headed approach and willingness to work with farmers to find solutions; a recent Country Life ranking of the people with most influence on those who live in the countryside put the charity’s founder, Jane Howorth, 82nd, just two places behind David Cameron. The article described the charity as one “which educates the public about the egg industry in a remarkably sensible and non-hysterical way.”
In anticipation of the proposed EU directive banning conventional battery cages and the introduction of an enriched cage system in 2012, the British Hen Welfare Trust, in collaboration with South-West MP Colin Breed, has tabled two Early Day Motions (EDMs) calling for clear labelling of the production method used on all products containing eggs or egg derivatives, widely used in processed foods. This would allow consumers to distinguish egg products from hens housed in the enriched cage system which offers improved hen welfare, from those produced from the battery cage system which will continue to be used outside of the EU. Chief Exec Jane Howorth explains: “It is important that farmers who are investing in improved welfare systems are supported by the government, the retailers and the public. Consumers are showing a preference for animal products raised to higher welfare standards and clear labelling will allow them to give British farmers – and the laying hen – their backing, and not drive cheap, lower welfare imports of battery eggs from overseas.”
The British Hen Welfare Trust’s new name and logo, with the strap line “For a free range future”, are designed to acknowledge the changing industry and to better reflect its work encouraging consumers, retailers and farmers to go free range.
The British Hen Welfare Trust’s Devon farm will be featured in the BBC documentary ‘The Private Life of Chickens’ on BBC2, April 28th. For more information or to support the work of the charity please email firstname.lastname@example.org , log on to www.bhwt.org.uk or tel: 01769 580310
The Smallholder and Garden Festival
Come and see us at the Smallholder and Garden Festival on 15th and 16th May at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground, Builth Wells.
There is no place like the Festival for encouraging those with a passion for ‘The Good Life’ to take the crucial step. The event provides a brilliant showcase for the smallholder way of life and provides a wealth of knowledge for everyone interested in this rewarding area. New this year is a Spring Poultry Show, so come along to the Festival for some fun and fresh air, and we will be on hand to answer any feeding queries.
No imitations, thanks – we’re British
Mr Fitzpatrick, hosting a celebration of foods with Protected Food Name status at Downing Street, urged more producers to stand up for their food and more consumers to support local produce.
The event showcases UK foods which have Protected Food Name status – a scheme which highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. Under the system a named food or drink registered at a European level will be given legal protection against imitation throughout the EU.
Speaking at the event, Mr Fitzpatrick said:
“We produce excellent food in this country, but we’re not always great about speaking up about it.
“Local produce that is traditionally made, unique and authentic attracts people from all over the world for its taste and its quality – it’s good for local businesses and local communities. And that’s something that deserves protection.
“Through this scheme, we have a way to stand up for local producers and protect their products. So I’m calling on more British producers to get their food protected and for their communities to get behind them. It’s not something that can be done overnight, but it’s worth it, in terms of the protection it gives the producer and the opportunities it creates for their renowned products.
“Ultimately, I want to us to be up alongside France and Italy who among them boast more than 300 protected foods – our food is just as good, if not better, as any other European country’s. I want to see the UK’s regional foods on the world map.
“The EU Protected Food Name Scheme means farmers, producers and shoppers all know that the special foods we’re buying are authentic. And it protects all these small businesses that help keep our rural areas alive.”
There are 38 products currently registered in the UK, including Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese and Whitstable Oysters which serve as major tourism draw cards for their home regions.
In addition, we have submitted 15 applications for protection to the European Commission.
For more information on the EU Protected Food Name Scheme visit: www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/industry/regional/foodname/products/
(As reported by the Defra website)
Defra receives key report on the future of farm animal veterinary services
The report was commissioned by Defra on behalf of a Government/Industry Steering Group which has been considering whether there is a shortage of farm animal veterinarians in Great Britain.
The report concluded that there was no such shortage nor a lack of interest in veterinary graduates pursuing a career in farm animal veterinary work. The report identified the potential for veterinarians to increase their role as providers of expert advice to the farming and food industries.
Responding to the report, Alick Simmons, Defra’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and Chairman of the Steering Group, said, “I thank Professor Lowe for his work on this report. It provides important new insights into the role of the farm animal veterinarian and I encourage all interested parties to carefully consider the report’s conclusions and how these might be taken forward.”
The report recognises that in terms of the number of animals they look after and the public significance of their work, no group of veterinarians is more important than those involved in farming and food production.
A recurring theme in the report is the need to better align farm animal veterinary services to meet the changing needs of the livestock industries. Professor Lowe recommends the creation of a Veterinary Development Council as an appropriate forum for bring the suppliers and customers of farm animals veterinary services together.
Defra will now carefully consider Professor Lowe’s report and is due to meet with other Steering Group members in November.
For more details see our website: http://www.defra.gov.uk
(As reported by the Defra website)
Organic is better for the animals - and for you, too
Compassion in World Farming strongly supports organic as the best form of humane and sustainable agriculture. For us, organic means first and foremost high animal welfare standards. For chickens, laying hens, pigs and cows it means a better and longer life, mainly with outdoor access, a balanced diet and freedom from stress.
Organic chickens, for example, are usually of slower growing, more natural breeds. Their life is usually almost twice as long as the one of an intensively reared bird.
Pigs reared in organic systems are weaned much later than standard ones, at 40 days rather than 28. The Soil Association advises its farmers not to wean until they are eight weeks old.
Calves born on organic farms are not exported to the continent, have a natural milk diet and outdoor access.
Organic is not only good for animals, but for people and the planet, too.
Conventional food production makes wide use of pesticides, which can pollute water and the environment, as well as pose a threat to human health. Organic food, instead, is produced with natural fertilisers, less energy and more respect for animals that provide it.
As far as nutrition is concerned, research shows that organic chickens can contain 25% less fat than intensively reared chickens (standard chicken). Scientists say that free-range chickens offer a more beneficial fatty acid composition compared to indoor raised chickens. This is they because free-range and organic birds grow more slowly, are likely to eat grass and exercise more.
Finally, intensive animal husbandry relies on a greater use of antibiotics to treat stressed, disease-prone animals. Resistance to antibiotics is a well-known consequence of such misuse. The spread of the MRSA super bug is probably the most eloquent example.
John Callaghan, Director of Programmes at Compassion in World Farming, explains: “MRSA is yet another potential example of how harmful factory farming is for animals and people. Pigs reared intensively often live in stressful conditions, subject to painful mutilations, unable to express their natural behaviour and prone to diseases. Factory farms where animals are unnaturally crowded and stressed, even with careful management, are always likely to need drugs to keep infections at bay. We should eat less, but better meat- coming from animals that have lived a happy and healthy life”.
For more details see our website: http://www.ciwf.org.uk
(As reported by the Compassion in World Farming website)
Radio Opportunity for Scottish Smallholders
BBC Radio Scotland is looking for the new generation of people who have turned their back on the fast-paced life of the city to live the good life as a smallholder, or a greenshifter!
Have you been prompted by the credit crunch to swap the office for the garden?
BBC Radio Scotland is looking for families, couples or individuals who are either Scottish or have moved to Scotland to follow their dream in the last two years.
To pursue this please call Rebecca Smith on 01463 702728, or email email@example.com
Come and See Us at the Royal Welsh Smallholder Festival this weekend!
The Smallholder Range will be attending the Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival this weekend, at Builth Wells, Powys. With plenty to do for all the family, the show is a real celebration of everything smallholder and is a great opportunity to learn about new breeds, gather information or just have a fun day out.
The Smallholder Range will be on hand to provide information on all of their feeds and answer any feeding queries you may have. This year we have also linked up with the RWAS to provide a servce to those coming to the show to learn more about poultry. Poultry Care Corner will be part of the Smallholder Range stand and will have experts on hand to answer any queries you may have about any aspect of getting started with poultry or waterfowl, and you will also be able to collect your FREE care pack to take home with you.
Have you heard of our new range specifically for Ex-Battery Hens? Come and visit our stand this weekend to find out more!
Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival, Builth Wells, Powys 16-17th May 2009
Hugh Challenges Chicken Numbers
Celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Compassion in World Farming took the high profile Chicken Out! campaign to the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to expose the Government's plan of increasing the number of birds that will be forced into overcrowded chicken sheds from 2010. Despite growing public concern over the link between poor animal welfare and human health - reflected in a 42% increase in sales of higher welfare chicken from 2007-2008- the UK Government is finalising plans to allow even more overcrowding, with a staggering increase of up to 24% from its previous recommended standards.
This is the equivalent of adding more than 11,500 extra chickens into a large shed that already holds 50,000 chickens, or allowing up to 21 birds to be crammed into one square metre. Each chicken will have up to a fifth less floor space than an A4 sheet of paper - even less than the tiny amount of living space a battery hen currently has to endure.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called on the Minister for Farming and the Environment, Jane Kennedy MP to exclude this huge increase from UK legislation. The celebrity chef delivered his animal welfare message to Mr Dan Skerten, Jane Kennedy's Private Secretary, in the form of a giant postcard signed on behalf of the 159, 613 Chicken Out! supporters, 216 MP's who signed the Early Day Motion 581 on chicken welfare and Compassion in World Farming.
Lasse Bruun, Head of Campaigns, Compassion in World Farming, said "The Government's proposals, if enacted, would undermine the most basic principles of animal welfare. Intensively farmed chickens are already suffering from lack of space, lameness, weak legs and lung failure, yet this proposal will only make the situation worse and goes entirely against the public's demand for higher animal welfare."
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said " People have become increasingly concerned about the welfare conditions that their food has been raised in. Consumers, especially those on tight budgets, rely on the Government to ensure that the food they have access to is of an acceptable ethical standard. The Government's proposal to reduce welfare standards is not only wrong but ignores this increasing public opinion and most importantly, ignores public interest."
Mike Hancock MP, sponsor of the Early Day Motion 581, said "Stocking densities up to 21 chickens per square metre are simply not acceptable. The British Government should outlaw such extreme densities in this country. It is clear from the soaring sales of higher welfare chickens that the British public want to see better farming conditions for chickens. Compassion in World Farming and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are to be congratulated on their campaign against this extreme overcrowding."
The Chicken Out! campaign has already acheived 159,613 pledges of support (as of 22 April 2009) from consumers who demand higher welfare for chickens.
Sheep Going Nude to Help Economy
Grazing sheep used on conservation land are helping boost Bedfordshire's local economy by having their fleeces turned into wool.
Sheep need to be sheared every year, which is a costly process but the fleeces are usually worth pennies. The Nude Ewe project, supported by Natural England, spins the fleeces into wool and then sellls it to the public.
Money made from the project is given back to farmers to spend on maintaining and looking after the flock. So far the scheme has earned £1000. Grazing sheep eat bramble, shrubs and other coarse vegetation that would otherwise take over habitats such as sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).
Fleeces are already being spun from a small flock of Wensleydale sheep which have soft fleeces and produce sought after wool. Heather Webb, co-ordinator for the Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Partnership, one of the partners in the project said ' The fleeces are only worht pennies, it also costs money to repair fences, maintain shelters and deliver medical treatment for the flocks. We are working to help conservation graziers recover these costs.'
Chicken Couple in Eviction Threat
A couple in Gateshead are facing eviction from their home unless they remove their chickens from their garden.
Elisabeth and Ronald Lewis, are tenants of Gateshead Housing Company, and their tenancy agreement forbids them from keeping livestock.
But Mr Lewis said the birds were doing no harm and that there ‘was no way’ they were giving them up.
A housing company spokesman said that the agreement clearly states that chickens cannot be kept at the property.
Mr Lewis said: ‘We’ll continue keeping the chickens. We’re not giving the chickens up. There’s no way. This is a garden that can easily cope with two chickens. There’s no health hazard, nothing except they (the council) have to have their rules.’
A spokesperson from The Gateshead Housing Company said ‘ Gateshead Council’s tenancy agreement clearly states that tenants must not keep livestock, such as horses, donkeys, goats, pigs, cattle , ducks, geese and chickens at the property.’
He added ‘Animals must not cause a nuisance, annoyance or concern to anyone in the local area including any employee or agent of the council or The Gateshead Housing Company’.
When asked about the possibility of being evicted, Mr Lewis said: ‘We’ll see to that when the time comes.’ As reported by the BBC News website
Whats your animal welfare footprint?
The RSPCA has launched two new quirky online adverts to encourage people to think about their animal welfare footprint, as well as their carbon footprint.
In the first advert, people are asked to spot the animal welfare problem in a kitchen scenario.
In the second, there's a hidden welfare problem during a family evening meal.
People are then asked to work out their animal welfare footprint by visiting: www.animalwelfarefootprint.com
Doing simple things can make a real difference
RSPCA sustainability and social responsibility manager, Helen Ball, said: "The footprint was developed to help people think about how they impact on animal welfare.
"Directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, we can all influence how animals are treated, the laws that protect them, and how society views them.
"Doing simple things, such as choosing not to buy fur or checking the label on the fake fur trim on a coat to ensure that it contains no animal fur, can make a real difference.
"We hope the ads will make people stop and think about how they shop and the way they think about animals, and encourage others to do the same."
Look out for the ads...
The online adverts are running on websites such as The Guardian, Channel 4, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel / Animal Planet.
RSPCA February 2009
The Price of Poultry
Back in 1950, roast chicken was a feast day treat and Britons ate, on average, less than a kilo of chicken a year. Now the meat is so cheap it's lost its novelty - smothered in sauces, tricked out with seasonings and covered in coatings. All those chicken dinners, curries, barbecue buckets and tikka-flavoured sandwich fillings add up. Britons now eat an average of 23kg of chicken each a year.
To satisfy our insatiable demand, around 840 million birds are reared in the UK each year. Most of the 16 million fresh chickens we buy from supermarkets each week are reared here, but many are imported. Most come from the EU but others are from Brazil and Thailand - these often end up in ready meals, nuggets and other processed forms.
The welfare state
All this cheap chicken comes at the expense of animal welfare. The factory farming conditions endured by most broiler chickens - reared for meat, not eggs - have been exposed most effectively by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.
To keep us supplied with bargain birds, farmers pack up to 50,000 (and typically around 25,000) chicks into sheds, dimly lit to discourage movement and ensure they put on weight at an unnaturally fast rate. After reaching the required size twice as quickly as factory farmed chickens did just 30 years ago, the average intensively reared bird is ready for slaughter at 5-6 weeks old. By then there could be up to 19 birds per square metre.
Because the chickens have grown so quickly, their bones can be weak, joints can become infected and some have difficulty walking. Ammonia from the build-up of faeces and urine in the litter on which they sit can cause breast blisters and burns on their feet and legs. The tell-tale 'hock burn' and breast blisters are evidence of poor conditions.
Climate of change
Celebrity chefs, the RSPCA and other campaigners have been trying to persuade supermarkets not to sell chickens farmed to these most basic standards and encourage shoppers to spend more on higher-welfare birds.
As a result of their campaign, British shoppers have been buying a larger number of well-treated chickens than ever before. These are either free-range birds (organic chickens are by definition free-range too) or birds from indoor flocks reared to better standards equivalent to the RSPCA's Freedom Food label.
According to a survey carried out for Compassion in World Farming, sales of 'standard' chicken fell by 11 per cent in 2008. At the same time 35 per cent more free-range and organic birds were bought. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and the Co-op now sell only higher-welfare chicken. Sales of these more fortunate birds rose by 42 per cent nationally in 2008. Overall the proportion of British chickens reared to better standards indoors or other free-range or organic standards has risen to around one in five, from only 4.5 per cent two years earlier.
What is higher-welfare poultry?
Millions more British chickens now live in better conditions, yet around 80 per cent don’t meet RSPCA standards. Instead, farms follow a voluntary Assured Chicken Production (ACP) code. The Red Tractor symbol offers a guarantee of the health of the flocks and food safety, and that chickens have been reared to a legal minimum standard.
However, the RSCPA believes that the ACP welfare standards are too low. Stocking densities, the Society claims, are unacceptably high and chickens are encouraged to gain weight as quickly as possible. According to Compassion in World Farming, Red Tractor standards meet only five out of its 13 animal welfare criteria. To qualify for the RSPCA's Freedom Food approval indoor-reared chickens must be a more active breed, have 25 per cent more space, brighter lighting, a better environment - with bales, perches and even footballs to play with - and live for longer than typical intensively reared birds.
Since the chicken welfare campaign took flight and shoppers started looking for the reassurance of a label, many farmers have converted to higher-welfare production. There were 25 per cent more Freedom Food approved chickens sold at the beginning of 2009 than at the end of 2007.
For better or for worse?
Until now, other than the most basic measures to prevent cruelty to farm animals, there have been no legal restrictions on how many birds can be packed into a given space (the stocking density). In June 2010, when a European directive comes into force, the welfare of chickens will finally be protected by law.
Chicken producers across Europe will be obliged to operate to the same basic standards, a move welcomed by British chicken farmers. The ACP code has already included improvements to lighting, but animal welfare organisations say the new rules will not improve conditions for chickens and could actually allow more overcrowding. Red Tractor chickens already have more space than the minimum required under the new rules. RSPCA senior scientific officer Dr Marc Cooper says, "it's a poor piece of legislation that will do very little to improve welfare for chickens".
Cheap chicken - at a price
While some supermarkets have moved away from standard chickens, others still compete to sell them more cheaply than their rivals. The price of a whole chicken has sunk as low as £2. Per kilo, chicken is still far cheaper than other meat, and in 2008 when food prices rose to an unprecedented high, poultry prices rose up by only half as much as those for beef and pork.
Margins are low for farmers producing chickens as cheaply as possible and the fluctuating cost of wheat, which accounts for 50 per cent of a broiler chicken's feed, makes it difficult to invest in changes to their chicken rearing systems. Even so, many chicken farmers have improved the environment for indoor chickens to meet customer demand.
What about free-range and organic?
Free-range chickens must have access to the outdoors for at least half their life and are grown more slowly, for slaughter at eight weeks old (10-11 weeks if they are organic), which means they don't suffer the problems that afflict the fastest-grown chickens.
Organic chickens are allowed to grow more slowly, are not given routine antibiotics or unnecessary medication, and are fed a diet of organically produced feed. All organic chickens are free-range, with more outside space than other free-range birds, and smaller flock sizes. Birds certified as organic by the Soil Association - 30 per cent of all organic chickens - will have been reared to the highest welfare standards.
However, buying free-range (and even sometimes organic) chicken is not always a guarantee of good welfare standards. This is because the stocking densities can be as high for free-range birds as for indoor-reared birds. They may not be able to get outside easily and space itself may be unsuitably exposed, for example. Though the indoor environment is equally important, no extra rules apply to that.
Freedom Food chickens are not necessarily free-range, and some chickens reared indoors may be better treated than their free-range counterparts. While most indoor broiler chickens are slaughtered at 35 days, Freedom Food birds will not reach the 2.2kg weight preferred for slaughter until 49 days - seven weeks. The best sheds have windows to give the chickens daylight, provide enough space for the birds to move freely and flap their wings, perching opportunities and a semi-organic diet.
Thanks to EU regulations we have been able to choose whether to buy eggs from hens kept in cages, indoor barns where they can move freely or from free-range birds, with daytime access to outdoor runs whenever they want. This information has been given on egg boxes since 2004. Eighty-five per cent of UK eggs come stamped with the red 'Lion Quality' mark. The mark indicates that they're included in what is essentially a food-safety scheme (all Lion Quality eggs are from hens vaccinated against salmonella) but the scheme also sets higher standards of welfare than those required by law.
Sales of free-range eggs are soaring, and now account for 40 per cent of what we buy - up from 15 per cent ten years ago. While the UK has the largest number of free-range hens in Europe, demand for free-range eggs currently exceeds production. Yet more than half the eggs sold are laid by caged hens; four per cent are from barn hens.
The RSPCA will not give the Freedom Food label to eggs from caged hens, of which there are an estimated 19 million. Their laying lives are short - most are no use after a year - and miserable.
The worst cages were due to be phased out in Europe by 2012 and replaced with 'enriched' cages, with a small amount of extra space, but still not enough for birds to move around freely. Welfare lobbyists believe these are little better and would like all cages banned. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op have taken the decision to stop selling eggs from caged hens.
Even free-range laying hens usually have their beaks trimmed (a practice that will be banned in the UK from 2011) to prevent them from pecking each other. Most of the birds are kept in very large flocks. Freedom Food laying hens have larger areas to roam and don’t have their beaks trimmed. Organic laying hens are kept in smaller flocks than free-range are and have twice as much indoor space - and Soil Association hens have even more outdoor space. Their beaks are not trimmed, either.
Here's what the various symbols and terms found on chickens and eggs mean:
? The 'Red Tractor' symbol is part of a voluntary scheme. Birds with the symbol meet assurance standards, guaranteeing the health of the flocks and food safety. Red Tractor chickens have been reared to a minimum welfare standard. These are conditions for 'standard' chickens and already exceed the EU welfare rules being introduced in 2012.
? 'Extensive indoor' or 'barn-reared': these chickens mustn't be packed more than 15 to a square metre of living space (and not more than 25kg/sq m in combined weight); they shouldn't be slaughtered before they are 56 days old.
? 'Free-range': the maximum indoor stocking density is 13 birds per square metre (and not more than 27.5kg/sq m); in addition, each bird, for at least half its life, should have continuous daytime access to open-air runs with a maximum density of one bird per square metre.
? 'Traditional free-range': the maximum indoor stocking density is 12 birds per square metre (and not more than 25kg/sq m); continuous daytime access to open-air runs should be given from the age of six weeks, and these runs should allow at least 2sq m per chicken; poultry houses shouldn't contain more than 4,800 chickens. Slow-growing varieties of chicken should be used, with a minimum slaughter age of 81 days.
? 'Free-range - Total Freedom': in addition to the criteria for 'traditional free-range' chickens, these birds should have open-air runs of unlimited area.
? 'Organic' chickens are free-range and slower grown. They are slaughtered at 81 days, given organic feed and no routine antibiotics. They are kept in smaller flocks, with more space to move about inside and out.
? Freedom Food is the scheme for animals reared to the RSPCA's welfare standards. Chickens are more slowly grown and stocking densities are lower, though they are not necessarily free-range birds.
? 'Farm fresh' is a meaningless description. The eggs could have been laid by chickens farmed in battery cages. Boxes must state whether eggs were laid by caged hens.
? 'Barn eggs' come from hens kept indoors in sheds, with no more than nine birds per square metre. Perches must be provided and other environmental conditions met. They can be Freedom Food approved.
? 'Free-range' egg production provides chickens with daytime access to runs covered with vegetation, with a maximum 2,500 birds per hectare.
? 'Organic' eggs are from chickens with more privileges than free-range and are produced according to EU laws on organic production. Growth promoters, artificial pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and commercial fertilisers cannot be used in the feed for organic production.
? The 'Lion Quality' mark on the shell of eggs is a guarantee that the eggs were produced to higher standards than required by UK or EU law. All Lion Quality-marked eggs have complete traceability, a 'Best Before' date on the shell and compulsory vaccination of the laying flock against salmonella.
? Freedom Food eggs meet the RSPCA's animal welfare standards. Battery hens do not meet the standard - only barn or free-range eggs qualify for this label.
Taken from the BBC News - February 09