Brits put welfare of egg laying hens before meat chickens

New research published by RSPCA Assured reveals a difference in the way shoppers regard chickens that lay eggs and chickens farmed for their meat.

According to the survey 60% of people always buy cage free eggs, but as few as around half that number (33%) say they always buy higher welfare chicken meat such as RSPCA Assured, free range and organic.  

This disparity is in spite of the majority (86%) of respondents saying they think all the chicken we eat should come from farms using higher welfare standards.

Consumer pressure has brought about a revolution in the UK egg industry with cage-free (barn, free range and organic) production accounting for 52% of eggs in 2016.

But it’s a different story for broilers. In fact RSPCA Assured chickens – from high welfare indoor, free range or organic farms – only account for about 1% of UK chicken production, with the vast majority being farmed intensively.  

According to RSPCA scientist, Sophie Elwes, there could be a number of reasons for the difference.



“With eggs it’s easy – by law they have to state whether they come from hens in cages and many supermarkets have actually stopped selling eggs from cages altogether,” she said. “But meat chicken labels are a minefield.”  

Price is also a significant factor. “The difference between the cost of eggs from caged birds and free range birds is usually a matter of pence but with meat chicken the difference can be quite a bit more,” said Elwes.



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