EFC announces move away from caged hens

February 19 2016

Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) has announced on behalf of over 1,000 Canadian egg farmers the move away from caged hens. The EFC said that it has started “a coordinated, systematic, market-oriented transition from conventional egg production toward other methods of production for supplying eggs.”

This announcement follows on from a number of restaurants and food companies that have committed publicly to moving away from eggs sourced from caged hens. 

A press release from the EFC said that the new approach being undertaken by Canadian farmers will take hen welfare, environmental impact, human health and sustainability into account.

Peter Clarke, chairman of the EFC, said: “In response to the best available scientific research and in light of changing consumer preferences, I’m pleased that the entire industry has agreed to an orderly transition plan that will further diversify our production practices.

“We see immense potential to leverage research and innovation to achieve the best possible outcomes across all factors of sustainable food production, which includes everything from environmental impacts to food affordability.”

It is expected that the shift in egg sourcing will result in a 50 per cent restructuring of the industry within just eight years. 

Currently, around 90 per cent of Canada's egg production is in conventional housing. The EFC has announced a commitment to stopping any new conventional housing from being constructed. 

It is expected that the next eight years will yield a 50/50 split between caged eggs and free-range, aviary or free-run. In 15 years, this will change to 85 per cent of Canada's eggs coming from alternative sources.

By 2036, all egg production will be free-run, enriched housing, free-range or aviary, so long as market conditions stay on the same track.

The industry will also be discussing the benefits of enriched housing, which is something that is not widely understood beyond the realm of egg farmers. This includes the reduction of hen loss, food safety, cannibalism and aggressive behaviour, among other factors.

“Egg Farmers of Canada is proud to represent egg farmers across all systems and to offer consumers choice when it comes to eggs,” continued Mr Clarke. “We are about to take our already high-performing industry and best practices in production to even higher levels.”