GOOD FOOD

Eggs from happy hens

Text: Anna Plaszczyk, photos: Otwarte Klatki

2 April 2015

Symbol of rebirth, an integral part of Easter, a component of the daily diet of millions of Poles. An egg. Gaja Club encourages to buy eggs labelled 0 or 1 not only during the Easter time.

There are approximately 40 million hens being raised in Poland. During last year, they have "produced" about 9 billion table and hatched eggs. Unfortunately - most of them still live in cages similar to those from the Otwarte Klatki movie. Eggs from such farms are marked with the number 3. Since two years, in accordance with EU regulations, the cages for hens have to be larger and equipped with a drinker, perch and scratching. Nonetheless the birds in these conditions suffer from the lack of space and freedom.

Hens are intelligent animals, still people often do not know about it. These birds can distinguish up to 100 individuals in their own flock. The research conducted by Bristol University have shown that hens intelligence is similar to that of 4 years old child, and in some aspects it even exceeds it. Packed in cages, on A4 paper surface, they are not able to satisfy their basic species needs. Such conditions lead to injuries, illnesses, violence and even cannibalism. Even new, "enriched" cages are not able to change it.

Eggs labelled 2 come from the bedding farms, where the hens are kept inside the building, at a maximum density of 25 birds per square meter. In contrast, the number 1 on the shell of the egg means that the hens can stay outdoor. This allows them to move freely, to sit on a perch, bath in the sand and behave naturally. The hens in such farms besides the feed that they can gain by themselves, have an access to fodder, grains and greens.

In contrast, the "zero" eggs come from organic farming. The hens are kept there in natural conditions, with free outside exit. Their capability to lay eggs is not stimulated artificially , and the fodder has an organic certificate. – We encourage consumers to purchase consciously – says Jacek Bożek, the president of the Gaja Club- Eggs coming from "happy" hens are more expensive, but they are worth to pay the price, saving animals suffering at the same time. While buying eggs with the 0 and 1 number, you support free breeding of hens! – He adds.

Gaja Club, the first in Poland, already in 2005, undertook a widespread information campaign concerning hens farms and egg markings. Then, it also began a pioneering Polish-Czech-Slovak-Hungarian research project about the sale of eggs in large retail chains. The project ended with 2008 edition of the report "Buy eggs consciously." Two years ago, as a result of actions conducted by many European pro animal organizations, including the Eurogrup for Animals, which Gaja Club is a member of, the European Union amended the rules regarding laying hens farms by imposing on entrepreneurs requirement of larger and better-equipped cages.