Organic Farmers & Growers has tightened its rules for the production of organic eggs, to clamp down on producers seeking to house multiple flocks close together.
OF&G’s certification and compliance manager, Stephen Clarkson, told Poultry Business there had been an increase in companies seeking to house multiple flocks in close proximity, which was “against the spirit” of organic production.
He said the change had been made because a request for a 32,000-bird egg unit had been made and the organisation felt this went completely against the spirit of organic. “Consumers do not expect organic eggs to come from flocks that size,” he said.
Up until now, buildings have been approved for larger units where they have had separate feeding stations and ranges. But now the organisation is clamping down on the rules, and now must only house a maximum of two flocks of 3,000 birds each in the same building. Previously the number of flocks was not specified by OF&G. Each flock must have dedicated air space, ventilation, feed, water and grazing.
These new rules have caused problems for some construction companies. The director of one construction company told Poultry Business some projects which had already been granted planning permission are now in doubt, as with fewer flocks permitted in one building than previously allowed, they are simply not viable.
In order to limit the number of flocks in a house the OF&G Board of Directors together with the OF&G Certification Committee have now said where an operator wishes to house more than two flocks there must be a minimum of four metres space between each structure. If an operator has existing housing exceeding these limits (more than two flocks of 3,000 birds) they shall be permitted to continue until such time as changes are made to the structures.