None of us likes the idea of hens being kept in battery cages and it can be hard to know if the eggs you buy are battery-produced eggs or eggs that have been produced humanely. Even some of the cartons labelled as “barn eggs” and with labels like “Farmer Bloggs’” or “Sunshine Farms” are from intensive systems.
If you’d like to make sure the eggs you buy have been produced humanely, you should look for the RNZSPCA’s seal of approval on the cartons and if there are none on display, ask for them. Choosing humanely produced food like RNZSPCA Approved eggs is ultimately the most effective way of promoting humane treatment of farmed animals.
Battery hens are caged for most of their lives in tiny cages that they find so stressful that they would peck and injure each other if they were not deliberately crowded so closely together that pecking is physically impossible. Battery cages are permitted in the legislation because providing the hens with more humane conditions would not be as profitable for the farmer. However as awareness of the farming conditions behind egg production increases, more and more people are prepared to pay a bit extra for eggs that are produced in humane systems. And it’s this kind of selective shopping that could eventually help phase out inhumane farming systems.
The SPCA can help you identify which eggs are produced humanely. It has developed a scheme whereby some of the egg producers who produce eggs in free-range and barn systems that allow the hens a good quality of life are certified accordingly, and their eggs carry the “RNZSPCA Approved” logo. So look for this logo on cartons of free-range and barn eggs in your supermarket, and you can be sure that the eggs are not only ‘clean and green’ but humanely produced too.
…and now humanely-produced pork too!
Many pigs are produced in intensive systems in which pregnant sows are kept in narrow individual stalls for months at a time with no room to move. Yet pigs are as intelligent as dogs and as sociable, and society wouldn’t condone such treatment of dogs.
The RNZSPCA is extending its certification system to pigs and already there are RNZSPCA Approved “Freedom Farm” pork products on sale in supermarkets in the Auckland and Hamilton regions. These are farms that meet the RNZSPCA’s stringent welfare standards, and which do not house sows in stalls. Let’s hope it’s not long before more pig farms get the SPCA seal of approval too.