Tag Archives: European Union

Free range chooks not always better off than their caged cousins?

20 Oct

Guest blog today by Gerard Oosterman, artist, farmer and blogger. 

Don't fence me in

Things are hardly ever what they appear to be, especially not in the world of shopping, and in particular, in the world of egg buying. A few nights ago we were jolted into the reality of animal cruelty when a program on chooks and their environs was presented on ABC television‘s 7.30 Report.

It proved to be an amazing world of deceit, cunning, and hoodwinking of you, the customer. If you thought that buying ‘free range’ eggs made you into a person caring for the welfare of the Rhode-Island Reds, think again. Unlike in the EU where the term ‘free range’ means a minimum of 4 square metres of open space per chicken and a mandatory supply of greenery, here ‘free range’ can be even more cruel and horrific than caged birds.

The European Union regulates marketing standards for egg farming which specifies the following (cumulative) minimum conditions for the free-range method:

  • hens have continuous daytime access to open-air runs, except in the case of temporary restrictions imposed by veterinary authorities,
  • the open-air runs to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation and not used for other purposes except for orchards, woodland and livestock grazing if the latter is authorized by the competent authorities,
  • the open-air runs must at least satisfy the conditions specified in Article 4(1)(3)(b)(ii) of Directive 1999/74/EC whereby the maximum stocking density is not greater than 2500 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens, or one hen per 4m2 at all times and the runs are not extending beyond a radius of 150 m from the nearest pophole of the building; an extension of up to 350 m from the nearest pophole of the building is permissible provided that a sufficient number of shelters and drinking troughs within the meaning of that provision are evenly distributed throughout the whole open-air run with at least four shelters per hectare.[

It is different in Australia where there seems to be an open slather on deceiving customers into thinking that free range eggs, which are often 2 to 3 times the price of caged eggs, are somehow produced by happy chickens, freely cavorting and picking their food from open grassy fields.

Those EU standards are certainly not applied here. The latest regulation now allows a staggering 20 000 chickens per Ha (10,000 sq metres). That is one chicken per half a sq M. This in effect raises their stress levels to such an extent it results in cannibalism. No worries, the chooks are then de-beaked. This was demonstrated on the young pullets by putting their beaks into a feeding tube. Instead of getting feed, they get instantly de-beaked. Footage was shown of the young pullets with bleeding beaks.

If you thought the Australian Egg board would be keen to improve conditions for the poor chooks or at least comply with EU standards, think again. A quick scan through the list of directors reads like the who’s who of some of the largest ‘free range’ operators, egg marketers and producers.

Hardly a bunch of unbiased, independent operators keen on improving the lot for chickens. Their main aim is to improve profits not kindness to chooks.

In Sweden, where else, caged eggs have been banned. In many other European countries, main supermarkets, including Aldi, do not stock caged eggs anymore. At least the ‘free range’ eggs have the legislative back up of a maximum of 2500 chooks per Ha (1 chicken per 4sq metres). How come, after so much publicity of late about the plight of chooks, this hasn’t been implemented here? It makes one wonder if the caged eggs are not a better and more ethical deal here after all.

I just hope Tony Abbott hasn’t got his finger in the eggs, he’s such a freemarketeer.

Gerard blogs at  Oosterman Treats Blog

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Mladic and Bin Laden: which solution is just?

30 May
General Ratko Mladić during UN-mediated talks ...

Image via Wikipedia

Guest post today by author Gerard Oosterman, artist, farmer and blogger. Gerard raises interesting questions about the two situations

They couldn’t believe their luck. Finally, after all those years on the run, the Serbs got their man. Ratko Mladic was indicted in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal and was recently arrested after a tip off.

Mladic stands accused of the murder of at least 7500 Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. This is considered the single biggest atrocity since World War II. Having watched footage on the news this morning there seemed joy by many that he had been arrested, but unlike the killing of Osama Bin Laden, there was no hysterical dancing on the streets as there was in the US when news of that killing broke.

longwarjournal.org

The total number killed as a result of all the attacks on America on 9/11 were close to 3000.

There are no winners in acts of terror on innocent civilians and the world is a better place now that both have finally been caught up with. However, the killing by Ratko Mladic and his henchmen of 7500 Muslims never received the same media attention as Osama Bin Laden’s attacks on the US,  even though the number killed by Ratko Mladic was far greater and surely on equal level of cruelty suffered of those killed by Bin Laden.

The siege of Sarajevo resulted in the deaths of at least another 10 000 people. The relentless shelling of this beautiful historical city of was encouraged by Mladic, who was reported as ordering, “Shell them till they go mad”.

One has to go back to World War II to find the equivalent.

There is, however, a stark difference by which both came to their final moment of justice. One was killed outright followed by jubilation and cheers by thousands of enthusiastic people, mainly Americans. It was seen as fair justice. Not many expressed concern that the shooting dead of Osama, in the head ,was done in front of his twelve year old daughter. Amnesty International was less enthusiastic, and was critical of this peculiar US method of justice, as OBL was unarmed and in bed, at 1am.

Amnesty raised concerns that there was no attempt to capture him alive, and stressed the necessity  to adhere and comply with international Law in  such situations.

Ratko Mladic on the other hand was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on an isolated farm, without any violence. He was immediately brought before a judge.

A few elderly women were interviewed just after the arrest of Ratko and were shown to still grieve for their sons and husbands.

The difference could not be more startling. While America has always been associated with guns, violence and seeking retribution whenever possible, no more so than in the cold blooded killing of OBL, at least the Serbs have displayed remarkable resistance to acting in the same way. Mladic is reported to have had two loaded guns but like Bin Laden, offered no resistance.

There are still many Serbs who consider Mladic a hero. The Serbian Government was repeatedly requested to implement his arrest but fearing a backlash, was somewhat less than enthusiastic. The big stick of refusing Serbia’s entry to the EU was effectively wielded by the European Union, finally persuading the Serbian Government to act.

No doubt the world can give a well-earned sigh of relief that another monster has been caught. Unlike the US action against Bin Laden, the world will experience the process of bringing such a monster to justice when Mladic is tried in The Hague.

Gerard blogs at  Oosterman Treats Blog

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