The Victorian Government has commissioned a scientific review of animal welfare in caged-egg systems, and complaints from the egg industry have revealed some unappetising truths about where eggs really come from.
While many Aussie shoppers now buy “free-range” eggs at the supermarket, Laurie Mannix, Victorian Farmers Federation’s intensive industries manager, points out that three-quarters of Australian eggs were laid inside cages – meaning that when you buy a pack of egg noodles or order an egg on your breakfast muffin, you’re still supporting the caged system.
Market shares aside, what about the chickens? Sadly, the main arguments concerning the relative merits of “free-range” as opposed to “caged” eggs are not about the sensitive, intelligent animals who lay them but rather profit. Egg producers worry principally about the larger profit margins taken by supermarkets for “free-range” eggs and proclaim that caged eggs are more efficient.
So many claims surround eggs and so many labels are placed on them that it’s little wonder consumers are confused to the point of cracking.
Meanwhile, around 11 million caged chickens in Australia barely have enough space to stretch a wing, and even “free-range” farms legally practise debeaking and the maceration of male chicks.
Add to that the health risks of avian influenza and salmonella associated with egg production, and one thing becomes painfully clear: eggs are just plain rotten.