Free-range eggs to be back on shelves as chickens can go outside

Roam free (Picture: Ezra Bailey)

Last November, hens had to stay indoors due to cases of bird flu – meaning free-range eggs disappeared from supermarkets.

Chickens had to stay inside to prevent the spread of the disease in what was the ‘the biggest ever outbreak of bird flu in Great Britain’.

Thousands of birds were culled, but now measures controlling bird flu are about to be relaxed.

From Monday, hens have been able roam outside again, meaning free-range labelling will be back once again on shelves.

Free-range means birds can have unlimited outdoor access in the day, and since March labelling has had to read ‘barn eggs’ due to how long hens had been shut away for.

According to the RSPCA, around 55% of all eggs in the UK are free-range.

However, the panic isn’t quite over, as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ensured other protective measures stay in place.

In a statement, four chief veterinary officers said: ‘Whilst the lifting of the mandatory housing measures will be welcome news to bird keepers, scrupulous biosecurity remains the most critical form of defence to help keep your birds safe.

‘It is thanks to the hard work of all bird keepers and vets, who have played their part in keeping flocks safe this winter, that we are in a position to take this action.

‘However, the recent cases of avian influenza show that it’s more important than ever for bird keepers to remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.’

Farmers have other battles to face too, as wheat – a key ingredient in chicken feed – has risen in price due to the war in Ukraine, as they along with Russia produce a large amount of food.

The BBC reported that due to this, some farmers are asking for a rise in egg prices to reflect their rising costs.

Shoppers might be glad to see free-range eggs again, but the issues farmers are facing are far from over.

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