Author Topic: Battery egg farming in India  (Read 1069 times)

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Re: Battery egg farming in India
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 06:56:51 PM »
Please note the error in this story, Australia has NOT banned battery cages.

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Battery egg farming in India
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011, 06:56:09 PM »
Ever since the poultry revolution of the mid 80s uplifted the humble egg and crowned it as a cheap-yet-stellar source of protein, India has harboured a growing affair with eggs.

Costing as little as Rs 3 per egg and available at every corner shop, they are a convenient and cost effective way of bringing some balance to our carbohydrate-heavy diets. But are they extorting a far heavier price from the birds that produce them.

A System of Suffering

India's demand for eggs has grown exponentially in the last decade. According to a poultry sector review conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2008, India was the third largest producer of eggs per annum, a majority of which is consumed domestically.

As a result, egg production has been transformed from a backyard activity for rural farmers to a highly organised urban industry. To maximise production, companies follow an intensive system of breeding hens indoors in factory settings.

Instead of foraging for food, as they would in a free range setting, commercially bred high-yield hens spend their entire lives cooped up in wire battery cages. Several thousand hens are packed into small cages, which afford them "less living space than an A4 sheet of paper", according to Nuggehalli Jayasimha, campaign manager with Humans Society International, an NGO working in the field of animal rights. The cages are placed in rows, side by side and stacked several tiers high.

From birth until they are 18 to 22 months old, female birds lay an average of 250 to 300 eggs a year. At the end of two and a half years, when their tightly monitored egg production begins to drop, the birds are culled and fresh chicks take their place.

Although, 60% of the eggs in the world still come from industrial farms, many countries, including Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Australia have banned battery cages. The European Union will phase them out by 2012. But India has been slow to catch on to the global trend. Even though the rural poultry sector still contributes significantly to the total national egg production, these desi eggs don't reach urban consumers because there are few cooperatives of rural egg farmers.

There are only a handful of urban agriculturists in the country who have set up free range farms. Out of these, only a couple have the marketing muscle to stock their products on the retail shelf, which means that the availability of free range eggs is spotty at best, even in urban areas.

A Business of Numbers

In the words of Manjunath Marappan, a NIFT graduate who set up Happy Hens Farm, a free range farm in Bangalore, in early 2010, "The business of poultry is pure mathematics."

Commercial facilities reap profits by choosing high-yield bird species and supplying them with nutritious feed. Illnesses are swiftly controlled using antibiotics. Each bird is fed between 100-110 gm of feed every day. Since they don't have any exercise, the birds lay an egg weighing 50-55 gm every day.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/11063496.cms