Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Size does matter!

As someone who has kept a chicken or two in my time I was interested to read the view of Tom Vesey, the chairman of the British Free Range (Egg) Producers' Association, in the Times on line, that large eggs might make a larger omelet but doesn't make the hen that laid them very happy.

Mr Vasey recons it can be painful to the hen to lay a larger egg.

However, egg size is just something else that in the end is dictated by the supermarkets. Farmers produce large eggs because the average price paid by Supermarkets to the Farmer for 12 free-range eggs is 77p for medium, £1 for large and just over £1 for very large. Just checking on line at ASDA/TESCO/SAINSBURY'S showed almost identical prices with the public paying £2.58 for a dozen Medium eggs, £2.92 for a dozen large free range eggs and a whopping £3.98 for a dozen very large eggs. Shoppers apparently mostly opt for large eggs as they think they offer better value for money and there is little consumer demand for small eggs, which weigh less than 53g and are mostly used in processed food. At a mark up of £1.81 a dozen for Medium eggs, £1.92 for large and £2.98 for very large then the public are probably right in their assessment of value.

According to Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol, there is no strong published evidence of pain in egg-laying hens, but, she did say they do often spot bloodstains on large eggs.

Another Poultry Fancier on Hartlepool Council is of course the redoubtable Councillor Geof Lilley. He feeds his flock marigold leaves and claims it makes his eggs taster better than the ones produced by my birds. All I know is a nice fresh egg, still warm from being laid, is a treat everyone should experience in the mornings! Being woken up at dawn by a cockerel crowing is less of a treat!


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