Paving the Way for Better Hen Welfare

These past few weeks we’ve highlighted many of the producers and brands that have made the commitment to support higher-welfare farming, and the road to better health, housing and handling of farmed animals in Australia. The aim is to give conscientious consumers a clear understanding of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme and the importance of making informed choices when eating out or shopping at the supermarket. Today we highlight the great achievements of the only egg producer in NSW with RSPCA Approved certification, Farmer Rods Free Range Eggs; a family farm that prioritises the welfare of their layer hens.

After researching various accreditation schemes, founder Rodney Pope decided the RSPCA Approved standards and certification signified much better welfare for hens. In preparation for their first assessment prior to achieving certification, the family and their team worked closely with the RSPCA for over twelve months to ensure that the farm met the detailed welfare requirements within our standard. Today, the hens more space to enjoy and a wealth of enrichment to encourage them to engage in natural behaviours, thanks to the diligent work to ensure the farm conformed to the standards.

“Having lived all my life on a farm and having looked after animals from a young age, I grew up knowing the responsibility of caring for our livestock, and the respect they should be given,” says Rod. “The welfare of all animals, domestic or wild, should always be considered.”

This mantra has been passed down to Rod’s son Bill, who now runs the farm with Coco, the family dog by his side.

Caring about hen welfare is everything to us, it’s simply the right thing to do. Plus, Happy healthy hens mean better quality eggs so it’s a win for us and the hens.

The hens on Farmer Rod’s Free Range egg farm spend their days outdoors, roaming the range and dust bathing.  When they need shelter to nest or lay their eggs, they have constant access to their barn with secluded nesting boxes. The barn is closed off in the evening to protect the birds from any predators and keep them safe from bad weather.

For decades, RSPCA Australia have advocated for a transition away from the use of barren cages, as they compromise hen welfare and lead to physical and psychological suffering. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is one of the ways RSPCA Australia promotes better welfare for farm animals including ensuring hens have more room to move, quality enrichment and that their wellbeing needs are met. Cage systems of any kind are strictly prohibited under the Standard and will not be certified RSPCA Approved.

Egg producers like Farmer Rod’s Free Range Eggs are important, not only because their hens live better lives, they also play a role in leading the way for other producers; by committing to rearing their hens to the RSPCA Approved Standard for Layer Hens they have proved year-on-year that prioritising welfare is achievable and viable. We applaud producers such as Farmer Rod’s for their dedication to farming to higher welfare standards than legally required in Australia and when it comes to ensuring a better life for layer hens.

Read more about the Farmer Rod’s story, here: NSW’s only free range RSPCA Approved egg farm is a family affair

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