Free-Range Farmers Keep Hens Caged Amid Bird Flu Concern

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) said that some free-range farmers choose to keep their hens caged as a measure to protect chickens from bird flu.

Free-range egg producers in the United Kingdom are allowed to let their birds outside again starting February 28 after being required to house them as part of the UK-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

But some egg producers were still concerned of bird flu because of the continuing outbreaks of the disease across the UK and Europe.

“The UK has the largest free range flock in Europe and we are proud of the high standards of British free range farms. Under normal circumstances we encourage birds to range outside freely, by planting trees and providing other shelter. The need to protect birds from bird flu has to be our top priority,” said BEIC Chief Executive Mark Williams.

BEIC represents more than 95 percent of UK free range egg production.

Eggs from hens that are temporarily housed can be labeled as free-range for up to 12 weeks, according to European Union legislation.

Beginning March 1, free-range egg packs from BEIC members temporarily carry stickers to inform consumers that the eggs have been laid by hens currently kept in barns.

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