The UK has met the EU target of phasing out battery cages and EU countries that haven't are under threat of legal action. This article from which this information comes may be out of date and perhaps battery farming has stopped in the EU. Switzerland banned battery cages in 1991.
Our Australian Capital Territory, where our capital Canberra is located, has banned battery farming, although it only covers a small area. Tasmania has banned new battery farms.
In every other Australian state it is free for all with animal rights activists at times getting into egg farms and showing us our truly awful they are. I won't put the vile photos they have taken here. They are quite sick making.
Now, I don't buy cage or barn eggs, only free range and I have been duped. Isn't this something like what we imagine in our heads to be free range?
Strangely, the decision was left up to State Ministers for Consumer Affairs led by NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello, and Federal Minister Minister for Small Business, Kelly O'Dwyer. They decided, not 1600 but 10,000 chickens per hectare was reasonable and that is pretty easy to work out, a square metre per chicken, three square feet per chicken. You may well imagine each of the 10,000 chickens standing in their own square metre space, but if you know anything about chickens, that is not how it works. I suppose it is better than in battery cages where they each have a space the size of a sheet of A4 paper.
I expect the above mentioned ministers have brought upon themselves some very bad karma. As a sop to those of us who care about animal welfare, and don't all my readers? the egg cartons will be labelled with the stocking rate of the free range farms.
So how was I duped? I was buying free range eggs at the local green grocer where they were a good bit cheaper than supermarket eggs. The were from from the company South Gippsland Eggs and guess what their stocking rate is? Yes, 10,000 chickens per hectare. Our current brand is Heritage Free Range Eggs, but I am unable to discover anymore than the company's Lang Lang address. I expect the worst though. Clearly we are going to have to pay more for low density stocking levels and I am prepared to do so to ensure the welfare of chickens.
There is a good chart here at the Choice consumer affairs website if you want to check how your free range eggs compare.