Free Range hens to stay safe a little longer

Government vets have decided that free range hens should be kept inside for a further short period to continue to protect them from the threat of avian influenza (bird flu).

The British Egg Industry Council fully supports the Government’s decision to keep hens safe.

Mark Williams, Chief Executive of the British Egg Industry Council, said: “Free range farmers love to see their hens enjoying the outdoors and exploring the range.  However, we need to ensure that it’s safe before they venture outside and hopefully it will only be a very short period before they can do so again.”

As free range birds have now been inside for some time, there will be some changes to packs which are required by legislation*.  As these are free range hens temporarily housed for their welfare, producers will continue to use free range packs, however, each pack will be marked with the words ‘Barn eggs’.  In addition, each egg will be marked with a number 2 to signify that it is a barn egg, for example 2UK54321, which is explained on each pack.

Retailers will also be communicating with their customers to explain the changes.

Williams concluded: “We undertook research that showed consumers want to support free range hens and free range farmers.  Marking free range packs and eggs temporarily as Barn is not only the most practical solution, but it also means consumers can continue to buy eggs from free range hens, albeit temporarily housed, while farmers can ensure the hens are safe and well.

More information can be found at

*Egg marketing legislation requires that, if free range hens are housed for more than 16 weeks, those eggs are sold as barn eggs.