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November 25, 2017

Singaporean and Vietnamese farmers study cage-free egg production in Europe

Humane Society International

  • Farmers at Heal Eggs Ltd, an innovative egg farm in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom. Trang Dang/HSI

Leading egg producers from Singapore and the Tien Giang Province of Vietnam travelled to Europe to learn about cage-free egg production at Heal Eggs Ltd, an innovative egg farm in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom. Ma Chin Chew of N&N Agriculture in Singapore joined Le Van Hoa, who has more than 300,000 hens on his farm, in learning about new types of cage-free housing systems, techniques and procedures for managing hens in cage-free environments, and the benefits of such systems for hen welfare.

Heal Eggs Ltd has been awarded the RSPCA Assured certification, which prohibits the use of cages and provides guidelines for hen health, diet, environment and care. RSPCA operates this ethical food label dedicated to farm animal welfare.

Humane Society International, a global animal protection organization, sponsored Mr. Ma’s and Mr. Hoa’s trip. As part of HSI’s Farm Animal campaign, the organization helps the food industry adopt higher standards for the care of animals on farms, including by connecting companies like N&N Agriculture and farmers like Mr. Hoa with the technical training and resources they need to transition to cage-free egg production. Earlier this year, Mr. Hoa joined a roundtable organized by HSI that brought together representatives from major global food service and hospitality companies with Vietnamese farmers and government officials to discuss the growing demand in Vietnam for higher animal welfare products.
 
Around the world, including in Vietnam, the majority of egg-laying hens spend nearly their entire lives confined in barren battery cages so small, the birds cannot freely spread their wings let alone express other important natural behaviors like perching, dustbathing and laying their eggs in nests. However, growing consumer concerns about the treatment of animals raised for food make it increasingly clear that the future of egg production is cage-free. Dozens of countries have national or local restrictions on the use of battery cages, and a growing number of multinational companies have pledged to eliminate eggs from caged hens from their supply chains globally, including in Asia, by 2025.

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Dawn Neo, corporate outreach manager for HSI Farm Animals in Asia, said: “The cage-free movement has already begun to take root in Asia. We look forward to helping food companies and egg producers meet consumer expectations for eggs produced with higher standards for animal welfare.”

Trang Dang, HSI Viet Nam campaign manager for farm animals, said: “We are happy to see Vietnamese farmers joining the global cage-free movement. We look forward to helping more farmers and food companies improve animal welfare on their farms and in their supply chains for eggs and meat.”

Mr. Hoa said: "I appreciated the opportunity to learn about cage-free housing from Heal Eggs Ltd. In Vietnam there is an increasing level of consumer interest in animal welfare, and we want to be among the first to capture the market for cage-free eggs.” 

Ma Chin Chew said:  “Asian consumers are increasingly concerned about the treatment of animals used for meat and eggs. We are thankful to Heal Eggs for sharing their expertise on cage-free housing with us.”
RSPCA senior scientific officer Mia Fernyhough said: "We are delighted to support the HSI with this initiative, and that this meeting was a success. It's fantastic that Mr Hoa is keen to be among the first to capture the market for cage-free eggs in Vietnam and we hope that his visit to an RSPCA Assured farm proved informative and insightful for his future ventures with his own business.

“RSPCA welfare standards are designed to ensure that all animals reared according to the requirements have everything they need for a better quality of life, whether they are kept on large or small farms, or in indoor or outdoor production systems. With well managed integrated rearing and production systems, operating to RSPCA welfare standards, Heal Eggs Ltd is the perfect showcase to demonstrate the benefits of higher welfare cage-free egg production.”

RSPCA Head of international, Paul Littlefair: “In recent years we have seen a surge in interest particularly from East Asia in the RSPCA Assured scheme, and members have welcomed on their farms officials, scientists and producers from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China, so we are especially pleased that Heal Eggs Ltd are now able to show best practice to HSI's partners in Vietnam.”

Tony Heal, owner of Heal Eggs Ltd said: “At Heal Eggs Ltd, we continue to invest in the latest technology and equipment to enhance the management and welfare of our birds. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with other producers wishing to make the switch to higher welfare free-range egg production.”

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