More space for hens: higher cost for eggs

27-07-2006 | |
More space for hens: higher cost for eggs

The cost of eggs in Victoria, Australia, could rise by A$0.15 to about A$4.40 per dozen (A$1 = US$0.76) following a proposal by the state government to improve the living conditions of the state’s 3 million battery hens by increasing cage sizes.

The government’s preferred option is to require egg producers to use cages allowing each chicken at least 550 sq cm, an increase of 100 sq cm on the current recommended guideline.

Commenting on the proposal, Victorian Farmers Federation egg group president Ms Meg Parkinson said: “Many egg farmers were already using larger cages, but some had been unable to afford converting their cages because of a drop in egg prices this year. Introducing free-range or barn-laid eggs across the board was not viable because it is obvious from supermarket sales that consumers wanted cheap eggs and would not pay the extra cost. Banning the caging of hens in Victoria would cost producers up to A$36 million and lead to a huge egg price rise.”

Ms Parkinson added: “The Government estimated the cost of a dozen eggs would rise from A$5.30 to about A$7.15 if all birds were barn housed. If they had to be free-range the cost of a dozen eggs would leap by up from A$6.35 to about A$10.90.”