NFU Call for Support on UK Free Range09 May 2008
UK - British poultry farmers cannot meet the rapidly growing demand for free-range eggs because of over-strict RSPCA standards on stocking density, industry experts have warned.
Despite EU law recommending a maximum stocking density of 2,500 birds per hectare for free-range laying hens, the RSPCA Freedom Food regulation (adhered to by UK supermarkets) ensures that all UK free-range laying hens are stocked at no more than 1,000 birds per hectare, reports Farmers Guardian
Chief poultry adviser for the NFU, Robert Newbery, said the extra burden on UK poultry farmers, compared to the EU, was preventing farmers from expanding production to meet growing demand and encouraging imports.
Mr Newbery said the NFU was in talks with the RSPCA over increasing the stocking density to 2,000 birds per hectare to allow British farmers to meet public demand for free range eggs.