Animal advocates hail switch to free-range hens' eggs

Chicken crosses road to get to Richmond, says Humane Society

Kent Spencer
The Province
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Langara is the first Canadian college to permit only free-range hens' eggs to be served -- and Richmond could soon follow.

"This is great news for the hens," said animal-rights advocate Bruce Passmore yesterday. "They have space to flap their wings. We're telling consumers it's really easy to end the cruelty of cages."

Passmore said there is a movement to free-range hens in Canada. Hens wander around open spaces rather than being confined in small wire cages.

"Langara is the first college to go cage-free," said Passmore, of the Vancouver Humane Society. "Richmond would be the first city in Canada."

A recommendation goes to Richmond council Monday.

Coun. Derek Dang said endorsing free range is not "wacko."

"You get richer eggs and happier chickens. The darker yolks look a lot better," said Dang.

City cafeterias won't be required to comply, however.

Richmond estimates menu items would cost 20 cents more.

A representative of the B.C. Egg Marketing Board said consumers should be given a choice.

"The only issue is choice. We don't like seeing people's choices being overridden [at Langara/Richmond]," he said.

Whitlock said nutrition in both types of eggs is the same. He said the cost of a dozen free-range eggs is usually about double the $2.25 for regular whites.

Passmore said 98 per cent of Canada's 26 million egg-laying hens are kept in small cages.