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The hallmarks of healthy well treated hens 28/03/2016, Producers

The eggs from the Soil Association certified Overton Organic Eggs have been one of the favourites on our store since we started fresh-range in 2014. Many of our customers are big fans of the eggs; freshly sourced from an outstanding free-range, organic farm in Arlingham, Gloucestershire. We source the eggs as little as 24 hours prior to customer delivery and they are still warm when we pick them up.

This week, when I collected our Easter delivery of eggs, my son and I chatted with owner Andy. I learnt how seemingly small improvements in the lives of the birds can make such big differences. Whereas in the past, they brought chickens into the farm from another rearing site, he and Lucy have built a new habitat for new born birds and have started rearing them on the farm this year from day 1 of their lives. The difference in the behaviour of the birds since doing this is abundantly clear - it was obvious even for a layman like me. The birds are much more interested when I come to collect the eggs. They appear to love it there even more - happier, more interactive and vibrant - running around and full of life. It struck me how small changes to the lives of the birds can make such a difference to their behaviour. There is little doubt about how higher welfare standards equate to happier birds and, therefore, better eggs. We're all at our best when we're happy!

Andy explained to me how simple it is to identify well treated, happy birds: Their legs are yellow (not white) and their beaks are sharp because they are not clipped (one of the differentiating requirements of Soil Association certified organic eggs). "There's no need to clip beaks if the birds have sufficient space and are not overcrowded. Even some other organic certifying bodies allow 50% more birds in a pen than the Soil Association do. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way now".

Rich Osborn

Director, fresh-range