Frequently Asked Questions

Q1 What does ‘Colony laid’ mean?

A: Colony laid eggs are eggs laid by hens in a Colony. Colony is an improved cage housing system which provides more space for hens to do the things hens love to do – nesting, scratching, perching and stretching their wings. The Colonies are equipped with ‘furnishings’ like nest boxes, perches and scratch pads, which are well used by hens.

The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012, specifies that conventional Cages are to be phased out by the end of 2022. They will be replaced by Colony, Barn or Free Range housing which complies with the welfare requirements for farm laying hens to produce eggs.

Farmer Brown is the first company in New Zealand to offer Colony laid eggs to New Zealand shoppers throughout the country.

Q2 Are colony hens still in Cages?

A: Yes, they are, but they are improved Cages which provide approximately a third more space for each hen to nest, scratch and perch. Colonies provide a minimum 750 square cm per hen, and like an ‘open plan’ home, they have access to the full area with room to move and interact socially with other hens.

Q3 How many hens are in each Colony compared to current Cages?

A: Colonies can house up to 20-80 hens, depending on their design, which science shows is an ideal number per flock. Standard Cages house 4-6 hens.

Q4 Will Colony eggs be affordable for the average New Zealand shopper?

A: Yes. Farmer Brown offers consumers the greatest choice of quality eggs suited to every budget, priced as follows: Standard Cage $0.32 per egg and Colony laid $0.37 per egg.

Farmer Brown Colony laid provides quality eggs, still at good value, with better welfare for hens.

Q5 What is the key point of difference from Colony laid eggs to normal Cage eggs?

A: Colony laid eggs are still quality, affordable eggs laid by hens who have improved housing with space to stretch their wings, nest, scratch and perch.

Q6 What are overseas countries doing with Colonies or other housing methods?

A: New Zealand is coming into line with the UK and the EU where Cage housing has been replaced with Colony, Barn or Free Range housing options. This has been the requirement in these countries since 2012 after a 12 year phase out period.

There is no legislation in Australia or the USA currently to phase out current Cages, although some states in both countries have differing local requirements.

Q7 What is the phase out timetable here in New Zealand?

A: The government is reviewing the transition steps at present. All Cages must be replaced by 2022 – this timing will not move. There is a phase in period and at this stage it is likely the oldest Cage housing will need to be updated by 2018, which will affect between 40 - 50% of cage egg suppliers.

The phase in timing is presently under review by the Government.

Q8 Why not just move straight to Free Range?

A: Colonies meet the required quality and welfare requirements, while also being cheaper, helping maintain the affordability of eggs for New Zealand consumers. New Zealand consumers need access to a range of good quality, affordable protein produced by healthy hens. Not everyone has the ability to afford Free Range eggs so providing more choice with welfare-friendly and sustainable options, is a very positive step.

Also, a number of manufacturers use eggs in their products as ingredients – baked goods, ice cream, mayonnaise, pasta etc. It is not sustainable for a number of these manufacturers to pay twice the cost for the eggs used in their products.