A new minimum standard has been introduced for UK barn egg production under the British Lion Quality Code of Practice.
Egg producers have been seeking clear guidance on the type of barn system in which to invest, since announcements from major retailers that they will only sell cage-free eggs after 2025.
The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has worked closely with Tesco and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) to develop the new standard, which prohibits the use of combination, or ‘combi’ systems.
BEIC subscribers approved the standard at a recent meeting, following a period of consultation. It aims to improve animal welfare, whilst creating a level playing field for UK producers.
The new standard comes with a raft of measures that go above legal requirements. This includes maximum floor stocking density of 16.5 birds per m2, two enrichments per 1,000 birds, a maximum colony size and superior nest boxes.
This will apply for all converted and newly built barn units with immediate effect, with a derogation for existing units until 31st December 2025. Combi systems are prohibited under the Lion Scheme from 1st November 2019.
BEIC chairman Andrew Joret said: “We are delighted to have had such a constructive dialogue with CIWF which has allowed us to create a mutually-agreed standard for Lion barn eggs moving forward.
“The standards that we have agreed are much higher than those being used across Europe and around the world. This will give consumers and the industry reassurance that animal welfare is a top priority within the rigorous British Lion scheme which produces the safest eggs in the world. We hope it will also create the opportunity for constructive dialogue on other areas of mutual interest in the future.”