back to article Clucking hell! Farcical free-range egg standard pecked apart by app

It’s often said that you can’t fight City Hall: the concentration of power and politics makes even the most open of political systems fight change tooth and nail. You have to work within the system, it’s said, or the system will fight you - and win. That’s a story the system puts out about itself - far better for all concerned …

Anonymous Coward

omitted

Though I admit it didn't take long to work it out for myself. 10,000 chickens per hectare is one per square metre.

Which makes it easier to see how loose the definition of free range in their regulations is.

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Re: omitted

Just as bad over here (UK). The birds only need to have 'access' to the outdoors to count as free range. That could just be a small door the birds never use.

Not sure about density per hectare, but it works out at about 1 bird per area the size of A4 paper.

There is talk of increasing the density allowed - EU wants to harmonise which just means bringing everyone down to the lowest standard across the EU.

Then the NFU starts talking about 'low carbon farming'. That's just means intensive as it needs less energy to keep lots of animals in a smaller area.

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Re: omitted

That is not the trick.

The trick is to put some sprinklers in the "free range" portion. The chickins do not like rain, so while "legally" free range, they stay inside and fatten up (or egg lay at caged hen rate).

So on paper (and on your app), you can have a chickin per whatever number of square meters you want. In reality, they are all sitting inside the shed at near-caged-hen density.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: omitted

I was talking to the farmer who supplies my eggs (extra large and not really wanted by the supermarkets) and he found that going free frange actually increases the number of eggs laid (and their working life) by his hens. his birds are let out in the morning. If the weather is good the come out. If it is not then the stay inside and keep warm. Sensible birds them hens. A cold wet chicken is no use to him or anyone.

Even if the birds never go outside, they are free to roam around inside. They have to have purches at different heights. That life must be better than caged layers (IMHO).

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Re: omitted

Omletted.

TFTFY

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Anonymous Coward

Re: omitted

> Not sure about density per hectare, but it works out at about 1 bird per area the size of A4 paper.

A sheet of A4 paper is exactly 1/16th of a square metre (A0 = 1sqm). If true, that would be 160,000 birds per hectare.

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Re: omitted

Around 4,000 per football pitch.

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Re: omitted

my chickens always love to wander around the garden, they've even dug themselves a favourite spot/dirt bath under one of the fir trees. Yes, they do not like the rain, and a wet chicken produces less eggs. I average 5-6 eggs a week each from my two...

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Joke

160,000 birds per hectare.

How many birds would that be per Wales?

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Re: omitted

In the UK the regs say free range is about 2500 birds per hectare (which they should have free access to). That's 4square meters per bird ... if your A4 is that size I pity your photocopier budget!

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Re: 160,000 birds per hectare.

How many birds would that be per Wales?

According to Wikepedia, Wales is 2 million hectares, so the answer is 320000000000

or 3.2 × 109

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Re: omitted

Okay I admit I googled it briefly AND i just took what Google told me, but according to EU regs (and I think UK is still in the EU) there are regulations for the roosting space and state, and then also:

"...

In addition to these requirements, free-range systems must also provide the following:

One hectare of outdoor range for every 2,500 hens (equivalent to 4 m2 per hen; at least 2.5 m2 per hen must be available at any one time if rotation of the outdoor range is practiced)

Continuous access during the day to this open-air range, which must be “mainly covered with vegetation”

Several popholes extending along the entire length of the building, providing at least 2 m of opening for every 1,000 hens.[6]

..."

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Let's let The Man select our priorities for us....

World coming apart at the seams and we have this decoy slag to keep us from being effective citizens.

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Re: omitted

they stay inside and fatten up (or egg lay at caged hen rate).

The number of eggs per bird is lower; the number of eggs per dollar spent on infrastructure/management/feed is higher. I have some data from back in the 1950s when battery chooks were a new innovation and barn/free-range were the usual. Maximum yield per bird was from free-range housed in coops holding ~20-24 birds IIRC. The relevant data is on paper in an archive box somewhere so difficult to access. The book I photocopied had a picture of rows of these coops spaced sufficiently far apart that a tractor and trailer could be driven between rows for egg collection and putting out feed. Egg laying rates were ~300/bird, or nearly double what was usual before WWII.

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Re: omitted

according to google a Hectare is 107,639 square feet. That would be 10.7639 Square Feet per bird ( about a square meter....not the size of an A4 Sheet of paper.

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Re: omitted

matchbx, I admire your commitment to imperial measures; but converting Hectares to sq ft, doing the division by 10,000, and then approximating the sq ft result back to sq m. is rather unnecessary; 1 hectare is *by definition* 10,000 sq m, so 10,000 chook/hectare is EXACTLY 1 chook/sq m.

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Linux

Cool app!

I wish we had something like this in both countries I live in. On the other hand, in one place I get my eggs (mostly) from a local farmer. The chickens are free roaming, even into the forest, and when passing on my bike I have to take care to avoid them. Pretty hard to measure density in that case...

Icon because we have no happy chicken ;)

You know, once we were mocking "duh, you know, there is an app for that" - and now there are some that are actually helpful.

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Re: Cool app!

So now we know: why did the chicken cross the road? Because she's free roaming!

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Go

Re: "I wish we had something like this"

I haven't checked, but it seems likely that one of Buycott's many (user generated) campaigns might cover free range eggs. And if it doesn't then, as they say on Wikipedia, it will in five minutes.

Edit: Here's one relevant to the US.

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Joke

Simple App

Have an app that tells you that the politician is lying... It only needs to detect movement of the mouth.

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Re: Simple App

> only needs to detect movement of the mouth.

If their mouth isn't moving then they are probably doubly lying

a) They'll be lying under their breath

b) They'll be lying by omission

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Re: Simple App

If politicians were made to lay instead of lie (eggs, that is) they'd be doing something useful

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Re: Simple App

Here's a perfect example to test it on: Martin Lews (moneysavingexpert.com) ripping George Osborne apart because Gideon stole the title "Living Wage" and redefined it to be something which *isn't* the Living Wage...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/george-osborne-accused-of-stealing-the-living-wage-by-money-saving-expert-martin-lewis-a6991526.html

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Re: Simple App

"It only needs to detect movement of the mouth" OR fingers/thumbs on a keyboard or screen

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Re: Simple App

"a) They'll be lying under their breath

b) They'll be lying by omission"

Additionally:

c) They'll be thinking about lying.

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Finally!

A smart phone app that's not just a locked in alternative to a web site.

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Anonymous Coward

"Free Range" is simply an arbitrary definition of no real meaning. There's far more to poultry raising than square meters per bird, though it is a good indicator as to how much the farmer cares about the flock; more space, clearly more willing to take special care despite the cost.

I like the idea of an app allowing consumers to see whether the mark up "Free Range" excuses is actually justified, so long as the data it presents is a full picture (it wasn't clear from the article that this one does. Let's assume that it does). A farmer giving the birds lots of room might be tempted to take short cuts elsewhere if "space per bird" becomes the only market driver consumers pay attention to. We don't want consumers to have misguided eggspectations about what makes a quality ovum.

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Meh

I'll trust farmers-

When the egg box advertises 'Free Range Rover'.

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Coat

Re: I'll trust farmers-

But I didn't think you were supposed to have the dog off of its lead.

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Free range ...

There's "free range" - e.g. one bird per square meter ore even one per 100 square meters - and then there is free range, where the birds really do roam free and you only round them up at night to keep the coyotes from eating them. I grew up with the latter and the difference in eggs and meat between true free range birds, who only supplement their diet with chicken feed and birds that can go outside if they want but don't because because they have no reason to do so, and have effectively no access to a natural diet (plants, seeds, grubs, bugs, and even mice) is the difference between day and night that vast majority of so-called "free range" eggs I have had don't measure up. One guarantee that a chicken is not "free range" except perhaps in the area it can move in is the assertion that the bird was fed a "pure vegetarian diet." Chickens are not vegetarians, and "range" means much more than available space to move in.

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Re: Free range ...

Indeed there is a difference.. a tasty one. "Free Range" seems a bit more liberal the ubiquitous "Organic" that I'm seeing here in the States. I'm not sure there really is a thing like "Free Range" or "Organic" in commercial farming anymore.

I have bought things from a local organic farmer (veggies, pig, cow, etc.) and there's a world of difference between his stuff and the grocers. The problem is, word of mouth... When the sign goes up in the morning for the "harvest of the day", one had better get there early. Beef and pig is under a contract.

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Re: Free range ...

The big difference I've noticed is that the yolks are much more yellow in properly free range eggs. They'll actually stain your fingers if you're a messy eater.

That said, my mum's chooks do have a fence around them, but that's to stop them scratching up all the veggies (and to keep neighbourhood dogs away).

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Re: Free range ...

The big difference I've noticed is that the yolks are much more yellow in properly free range eggs.

Unfortunately, cage egg producers can sell you eggs with yolks of any desired shade of yellow. They just add a commercially available dye to the chickens' diet. The yellow of free-range eggs is due to vitamin A and analogues in green feed.

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Joke

This is eggsactly the right kind of app for the job.

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As Robin Williams said

Politicians should be like NASCAR drivers - they should have logos from all their sponsors on the back of their jackets. Then you'd know why they vote the way they do!

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I approved of that the first time I heard him say it - and I still approve of it.

And that is something that could actually be made legal. Any donation of above a certain amount and on goes a sticker with the name of the donor (or the org, whichever is paying).

I think that should be mandatory in any country that boasts of being democratic.

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Re: As Robin Williams said

Or, if the information is supposed to be subject to publicly inquiry somewhere, you could have an app that would pull in and AR-overlay live sponsoring information over politicians viewed with a smartphone. Now that's an app I'd ACTUALLY download...

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Re: As Robin Williams said @ Dropbear

I like that idea! Which of El Reg's finest will be te first to market?

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Anonymous Coward

I've not bought shop bought eggs for a long time. I have friends that own a farm, yes they are little more expensive (£2 per dozen), not cleaned like shop eggs and vary in size from small to dinosaur but I can highly recommend them. You also don't need a use by date if you have a bowl of water.

I like the idea of this app but how do you confirm it's accuracy? A farmer could put his chickens in a field when they come and check then put them back in cages when they leave. The same goes for anything it's applied to.

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Thumb Up

Free range politicians for sale!!!

I'd rather cut the middlemen -chickens, in this case- and go straight for an app to evaluate whether politicians are too 'free ranging' (;-), as the article suggests. This is potentially game changing!

Kudos to Mr. Weiley for the idea and the app, and thanks to Mark and Elreg for bringing this to our attention.

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Chook?

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Antipodean

chicken...

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Anonymous Coward

Data

Curious to know where the data comes from.... and how it differentiates assuming eggs from a single egg supplier can come from multiple farms?

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"CluckAR is only possible in a country full of folks rich enough to afford smartphones and mobile broadband"

And outside of that country, guess what? People keep yard birds, mon.

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"CluckAR is only possible in a country full of folks rich enough to afford smartphones and mobile broadband"

Yeah I don't get this sentence either. About the only place that doesn't have smart phone support these days are remote, inhospitable areas or countries mired in civil war or a few places in the American Appalachians.

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Anonymous Coward

"[...] voters would have some idea whose agenda they were really promoting."

500,000 Californian voters have signed up for the presidential election primaries by ticking "American Independent". Apparently many of them thought they were expressing no affiliation to any party. In fact they have irrevocably hitched their primary vote to a far right party.

http://ktla.com/2016/04/18/up-to-500k-californians-may-be-blocked-from-voting-in-june-primary/

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It's high time the US finally overhauls its election system, because as it is now it's beyond broken.

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The US election system is broken only if you're not rich.

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@Mr Chriz: yes, my first thought exactly. Does this work by discovering the producer's details and then comparing with some database somewhere? I don't believe the flock density is actually marked on the packaging - or if it is, the bad guys won't be long in removing it - so this is really only going to be effective until the factory farmers realise what's happening.

Someone will no doubt tell me I am wrong and too cynical...

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