The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has decided upon a barn standard under the British Lion Quality Code of Practice, after a period of consultation with its subscribers.
The new Lion standards include a raft of measures which are above those legally required, including a maximum floor stocking density of 16.5 birds per m2, two enrichments per 1,000 birds, a maximum colony size and superior nest boxes. The new standards will apply for all converted and newly built barn units with immediate effect, with a derogation for existing units until 31 December 2025.
The British Lion Code of Practice will prohibit so-called Combi systems from 1 November 2019.
Following the announcement by major retailers and some wholesalers to sell only ‘cage-free’ eggs after 2025, producers have wanted clear guidance on the type of barn system in which to invest.
The BEIC has worked closely with Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and Tesco to develop a standard for UK barn egg production, capable of delivering higher levels of animal welfare, while providing a sound commercial opportunity for producers. BEIC subscribers agreed the new standard at a recent meeting.
Dr. Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: “We’ve worked closely with the BEIC and are fully supportive of this new barn standard. It significantly improves on weak legislation that otherwise permits the use of high stocking densities and highly intensive systems such as Combi systems. The new standard will not only deliver better welfare for hens but will help create a level playing field for those far-sighted producers converting out of cages before the 2025 deadline.”
Both BEIC and CIWF are working to ensure that the new standard is adopted for barn production not only for retail shell eggs, but also for egg products, including those used as ingredients, across retail, food service and food manufacturing.