AS it should be, the majority of our time is focused on progressing the needs of industry, but what of those who are not thinking about the industry as a whole and are actually undermining the protocols so many farmers adhere to?
I am referring to organisations that state they undertake hen rescue. The first point is that hens don’t need to be rescued. If there are any concerns, they would be raised through auditing and the regulatory activities enforced through animal welfare organisations such as RSPCA.
The questions must be asked:
- Are the hens stolen?
- Have you trespassed onto someone’s property and into someone’s shed to illegally take these hens?
- How old are these hens and where are they from? What assurances do you provide that the hen is heathy? What knowledge do the people taking them home have of diseases that impact poultry? People need to be aware of diseases such as salmonella enteritidis and the risk of looking after a hen without any background knowledge of where they are from.
- What if the people considering taking these hens do not have a coop to keep predators away or understand hens need shade or their feed requirements? How do you ensure those taking hens can look after them?
Many of these groups state they are giving the hen away but are happy to take donations to help their cause. Farmers are once again being attacked by these groups for doing something ‘wrong’ when as an egg-producing community we know farmers have nutritionists focused on the food and water intake of hens, care for animal welfare in relation to shade and inside environments and know the background to each hen from day old or pullet.
Just as the cattle industry has traceability for cattle through NLIS tags and brands to stop poddy dodgers. Most people raise the movement of eggs with me but we should not forget the movement of hens. All who own poultry should keep records of where their hens are from and be able to show how the birds are looked after.
Where are the accreditation systems and standards in place for those who decide to take on a hen from these irresponsible groups who thumb their noses at the systems industry and government have in place for the betterment of the welfare of hens and food safety for humans?