Farmer Brown general manager Hamish Sutherland with the new
colony-laid eggs. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Farmer Brown - a brand of Mainland Poultry - has become
the first egg producer in New Zealand to offer colony-laid eggs
to consumers throughout the country.
Controversial conventional cages are to be phased out by the
end of 2022, to be replaced by colony, barn or free-range
Colony housing is a larger cage system, which meets the
requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, providing a minimum
750sq cm per bird, with facilities for perching, laying and
Farmer Brown general manager Hamish Sutherland said a
deliberate decision had been made to ''lead the way'' during
the phase-in period rather than wait until the deadlines.
Not everyone had the ability to buy free-range eggs, so
providing more choice for consumers, with more
welfare-friendly and sustainable options, was an ''incredibly
A free range option had also been launched.
Economics played an important part in consumer purchases.
Standard cage eggs comprised more than 75% of supermarket egg
sales, Mr Sutherland said.
''Welfare is important to consumers, as it is to farmers, and
economics is equally important. Our consumers are savvy, like
to make up their own minds and don't like to be told what to
do. That's where choice comes in.
''We see our job as producing the best quality eggs, in the
different housing formats, and making them available to
consumers. It is then for consumers to choose which is the
right option for them,'' Mr Sutherland said.
Mainland Poultry straddled different production types,
ranging from New Zealand's largest free-range farm,
Woodlands, at Dunback, to its caged operation.
There were about 50,000 hens in the colony system at
Waikouaiti and a similar number at the company's Rangiora
farm, where caged housing was also being replaced with
With a 10-year time horizon, the company was not going to
leave it to the last minute and was probably tracking ahead
of 10% a year, bringing in the changes, Mr Sutherland said.
Leaving it to the last minute would cause a ''real log-jam'',
which was what happened in Europe, when cage housing was
replaced, causing a shortage of eggs.