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‘Chooks can’t cope’: Why free-range isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Contrary to popular belief, chickens don’t actually like roaming around in large spaces, says an Australian poultry leader.

In fact, we’re being encouraged to reconsider some cage-laid chicken eggs.

Free-range eggs made up almost half of all eggs sold at major supermarkets last financial year, with many Australians ditching cage-eggs amid concerns about hens’ welfare.

Director of Poultry Hub Australia, Tamsyn Crowley, told 3AW Breakfast it stems from their basic instinct to shelter from predators.

“Chickens like to live in small groups in protected areas,” says Ms Crowley.

“The key thing people forget is chooks in your backyard are about five or ten, but chooks in a commercial scale are thousands.

“When you get them in big groups they can’t establish a pecking order.

“It becomes stressful.”

But it’s not as simple as that says Ms Crowley.

“Chickens do enjoy going outside to roost and scratch around in the dirt.

“They do like to be outside, they just need a protected environment.”

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