Buying large eggs may be cruel to hens

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  • Shoppers told to eat medium eggs to help hens

    If you want to be kind to hens, you should eat medium, not large or very large eggs, shoppers were told today.

    According to new advice from the British Free Range Producers’ Association (BFREPA), laying large eggs can be painful to the hen and causes them stress.

    Tom Vesey, the chairman of the BFREPA who keeps 16,000 hens on 45 acres at Dingestow, Monmouth said: ‘It can be painful to the hen to lay a larger egg. There is also the stress, which is a big problem as it takes more out of hens to lay large eggs. It would be kinder to eat smaller eggs.’

    Mr Vesey, who says he is determined to change egg-shopping habits, insists that farmers only produce large eggs because they receive more for them from supermarkets. The average price for 12 free-range eggs paid to a farmer is 77p for medium, £1 for large and just over £1 for very large.

    Animal welfare experts say his argument is valid. Phil Brooke, of Compassion in World Farming, said: ‘Selectively breeding hens for high productivity, whether larger eggs or larger numbers of eggs, can cause a range of problems such as osteoporosis, bone breakage and prolapse. We need to breed and feed hens so that they can produce eggs without risk to their health or welfare.’

    An even more compelling quote comes from Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at the University of Bristol. ‘There is no strong evidence of pain in egg-laying hens but it’s not unreasonable to think there may be a mismatch in the size of birds and the eggs they produce. We do often spot bloodstains on large eggs.’


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