Winterbourne Bassett farmers shell-shocked

: Robert and John Stiles have given up producing eggs

: Robert and John Stiles have given up producing eggs

First published in News by

Eggfarmers John and Robert Stiles have been forced to give up their egg production business at Winterbourne Bassett by new EC regulations that came into effect on New Year’s Day.

Like many other egg farmers, they say, they have been forced out of production by the new EC regulations that require much bigger and costly cages for battery hens.

However, many British farmers, like the Stiles brothers, say they cannot afford the cost of converting to the new cages so have given up egg production and now buy in their eggs from a producer in Dorset who has installed new cages.

John Stiles, 66, has been keeping chickens since he was 11 and kept a few hens in the back garden of his parents’ pub, the White Hart at Stratton St Margaret, Swindon.

He said: “I kept a few chickens in the garden and I started selling the eggs to neighbours and it went on from there, so I have been producing and selling eggs for 55 years.

“We moved to Winterbourne Bassett in 1965 to set up the egg farm and, until we began to run it down last year, because the new regulations were coming in, we were producing 27-28,000 eggs a day.”

John and Robert Stiles also set up their own egg marketing business delivering to shops, restaurants and public houses. That business will continue, supplying the Dorset eggs.

“We simply can’t afford the new cages,” said John Stiles. “If we had gone down that road it would have put 20p a dozen on the cost of our eggs over the next five years.

“We would not have been able to get any grants towards the costs although I understand egg farmers in Scotland, Wales and Ireland are getting some form of grant.”

Mr Stiles said to replace their existing battery cages with the new ones would have cost between £600-£700,000.

Under the new rules egg producers have to provide bigger ‘colony’ cages that provide the birds with more space, a darkened nest area, perching space and a scratching area, with each bird having 750 square centimetres of space compared with 550 sq cm previously.

He said it was widely reported that continental egg producers were flouting the new regulations and still using the outlawed cages.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that secretly filmed footage from French poultry farms proved that many were flouting the new regulations, with many of the illegally produced eggs being turned into liquid or powdered egg used in the catering industry and by food manufacturers.

Countries including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Poland have told the EC that their producers were not ready to implement the new regulations, which are not backed up by any fines, penalties or export ban for the illegal producers.

John Stiles commented: “Other continental countries are still keeping hens in the old-style cages and they are coming into Britain cheap and we cannot compete.”

Comments (17)

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1:43pm Thu 5 Jan 12

Grumpy of Calne. says...

Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU.
Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU. Grumpy of Calne.
  • Score: 0

8:22pm Thu 5 Jan 12

who dat? says...

Our euro mps have been aware of this for
months and have chosen to do nothing!!
SACK THE LOT and get us out of the eu!!
Our euro mps have been aware of this for months and have chosen to do nothing!! SACK THE LOT and get us out of the eu!! who dat?
  • Score: 0

7:38am Fri 6 Jan 12

Triton says...

Grumpy of Calne. wrote:
Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU.
Good point. Looking at that photo though it's clear that battery hens have no quality of life in that dingy place.
[quote][p][bold]Grumpy of Calne.[/bold] wrote: Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU.[/p][/quote]Good point. Looking at that photo though it's clear that battery hens have no quality of life in that dingy place. Triton
  • Score: 0

2:21pm Fri 6 Jan 12

acarmichael says...

These new rules are not new. Egg farmers have had TEN YEARS in which to prepare for this, so whining and bleating about it now gets no sympathy from me...especially when you see the horrendous and evil conditions that battery hens have to endure. Chickens aren't soul-less egg-laying machines; they're sentient, intelligent and feeling animals who respond to the whole gamut of emotions; they form friendships, they nurture their young, they grieve and to condemn them to the life they "live" is no different than herding people into a concentration camp. The ONLY difference between the two is a question of species. EU rules are made for a reason, they're not made to victimise anyone and they're not made just for their own sake; they serve a useful purpose for everyone within the EU...chickens included.
These new rules are not new. Egg farmers have had TEN YEARS in which to prepare for this, so whining and bleating about it now gets no sympathy from me...especially when you see the horrendous and evil conditions that battery hens have to endure. Chickens aren't soul-less egg-laying machines; they're sentient, intelligent and feeling animals who respond to the whole gamut of emotions; they form friendships, they nurture their young, they grieve and to condemn them to the life they "live" is no different than herding people into a concentration camp. The ONLY difference between the two is a question of species. EU rules are made for a reason, they're not made to victimise anyone and they're not made just for their own sake; they serve a useful purpose for everyone within the EU...chickens included. acarmichael
  • Score: 0

2:22pm Fri 6 Jan 12

acarmichael says...

These new rules are not new. Egg farmers have had TEN YEARS in which to prepare for this, so whining and bleating about it now gets no sympathy from me...especially when you see the horrendous and evil conditions that battery hens have to endure. Chickens aren't soul-less egg-laying machines; they're sentient, intelligent and feeling animals who respond to the whole gamut of emotions; they form friendships, they nurture their young, they grieve and to condemn them to the life they "live" is no different than herding people into a concentration camp. The ONLY difference between the two is a question of species. EU rules are made for a reason, they're not made to victimise anyone and they're not made just for their own sake; they serve a useful purpose for everyone within the EU...chickens included.
These new rules are not new. Egg farmers have had TEN YEARS in which to prepare for this, so whining and bleating about it now gets no sympathy from me...especially when you see the horrendous and evil conditions that battery hens have to endure. Chickens aren't soul-less egg-laying machines; they're sentient, intelligent and feeling animals who respond to the whole gamut of emotions; they form friendships, they nurture their young, they grieve and to condemn them to the life they "live" is no different than herding people into a concentration camp. The ONLY difference between the two is a question of species. EU rules are made for a reason, they're not made to victimise anyone and they're not made just for their own sake; they serve a useful purpose for everyone within the EU...chickens included. acarmichael
  • Score: 0

3:44pm Fri 6 Jan 12

Don Jones says...

Much as I agree those conditions look horrible, I think that you're anthropomorphising a little there, acarmichael.
Much as I agree those conditions look horrible, I think that you're anthropomorphising a little there, acarmichael. Don Jones
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Fri 6 Jan 12

acarmichael says...

What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.
What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms. acarmichael
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Fri 6 Jan 12

Don Jones says...

But chickens do taste nice.
But chickens do taste nice. Don Jones
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Fri 6 Jan 12

acarmichael says...

That really isn't a morally sound argument at all.
That really isn't a morally sound argument at all. acarmichael
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Fri 6 Jan 12

Triton says...

I wonder how many people who willingly buy eggs produced by battery hens also condemn fox hunting?
I wonder how many people who willingly buy eggs produced by battery hens also condemn fox hunting? Triton
  • Score: 0

12:38pm Sat 7 Jan 12

Don Jones says...

Grumpy of Calne. wrote:
Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU.
Blimey, I agree with GoC! And I was not surprised by Mr Stilies saying "I understand egg farmers in Scotland, Wales and Ireland are getting some form of grant". We subsidise the Scots like nobody's business. They love the idea of independence but they can't do without their pocket money. It's about time we told them to grow up and stand on their own two feet.
[quote][p][bold]Grumpy of Calne.[/bold] wrote: Although I do not hold with battery farming, I think it's about time we stuck two fingers up to the EU.[/p][/quote]Blimey, I agree with GoC! And I was not surprised by Mr Stilies saying "I understand egg farmers in Scotland, Wales and Ireland are getting some form of grant". We subsidise the Scots like nobody's business. They love the idea of independence but they can't do without their pocket money. It's about time we told them to grow up and stand on their own two feet. Don Jones
  • Score: 0

2:17pm Sat 7 Jan 12

Don Jones says...

acarmichael wrote:
That really isn't a morally sound argument at all.
Morally sound? It wan't supposed to be. Most chickens are basically a food crop. Sure, we shouldn't take the Mick and make them suffer unnecessarily but we're going to eat the eggs and/or the meat. Unless you're a vegetarian, that is.
[quote][p][bold]acarmichael[/bold] wrote: That really isn't a morally sound argument at all.[/p][/quote]Morally sound? It wan't supposed to be. Most chickens are basically a food crop. Sure, we shouldn't take the Mick and make them suffer unnecessarily but we're going to eat the eggs and/or the meat. Unless you're a vegetarian, that is. Don Jones
  • Score: 0

8:57pm Sun 8 Jan 12

Mon Cheri says...

Should have gone free range or produce barn eggs - could have used your dismal building without the cages for that!!
Should have gone free range or produce barn eggs - could have used your dismal building without the cages for that!! Mon Cheri
  • Score: 0

9:14am Mon 9 Jan 12

frosch says...

The EU diective is 12 years old , there was plenty of time to convert, typical to leave it to the last minute and then blame the EU. Battery cages have been illegal in Germany since 2005 and the "new" enlarged cages have been banned in Germany from the 1st January
The EU diective is 12 years old , there was plenty of time to convert, typical to leave it to the last minute and then blame the EU. Battery cages have been illegal in Germany since 2005 and the "new" enlarged cages have been banned in Germany from the 1st January frosch
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Tue 10 Jan 12

freddie_W says...

acarmichael wrote:
What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.
What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own.

Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly?

O dear.
[quote][p][bold]acarmichael[/bold] wrote: What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.[/p][/quote]What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own. Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly? O dear. freddie_W
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Tue 10 Jan 12

acarmichael says...

freddie_W wrote:
acarmichael wrote:
What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.
What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own.

Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly?

O dear.
You didn't read my comments correctly. I wasn't saying their life is more important than yours, I said a chicken's life is AS important to it as yours is to you. There's a difference...and it's hardly "sentimental drivel" when you consider that each battery chicken is confined to a space roughly the size of 3/4 of a sheet of A4 paper for 72 weeks before it's killed (presuming, of course, that it reaches 72 weeks and isn't one of the 2 million chickens that die each year in their cages from injury or disease). In that time it is sees no sunlight, breathes no fresh air and cannot do anything it would naturally do...not to mention the barbaric and inhumane procedure of beak trimming. There is a reason why people like myself stand up for animals like this; it's because they don't have a voice of their own. They cannot defend themselves, they cannot fight back, they cannot stand up and say " No. This is wrong" ...people have to do that for them, and if people didn't we'd have no animal welfare or animal cruelty laws in this country; we'd be worse than China on that front.
[quote][p][bold]freddie_W[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]acarmichael[/bold] wrote: What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.[/p][/quote]What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own. Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly? O dear.[/p][/quote]You didn't read my comments correctly. I wasn't saying their life is more important than yours, I said a chicken's life is AS important to it as yours is to you. There's a difference...and it's hardly "sentimental drivel" when you consider that each battery chicken is confined to a space roughly the size of 3/4 of a sheet of A4 paper for 72 weeks before it's killed (presuming, of course, that it reaches 72 weeks and isn't one of the 2 million chickens that die each year in their cages from injury or disease). In that time it is sees no sunlight, breathes no fresh air and cannot do anything it would naturally do...not to mention the barbaric and inhumane procedure of beak trimming. There is a reason why people like myself stand up for animals like this; it's because they don't have a voice of their own. They cannot defend themselves, they cannot fight back, they cannot stand up and say " No. This is wrong" ...people have to do that for them, and if people didn't we'd have no animal welfare or animal cruelty laws in this country; we'd be worse than China on that front. acarmichael
  • Score: 0

9:36pm Tue 10 Jan 12

freddie_W says...

freddie_W wrote:
acarmichael wrote:
What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.
What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own.

Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly?

O dear.
Or equally as important.
[quote][p][bold]freddie_W[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]acarmichael[/bold] wrote: What...so you're saying we are the only creatures to feel pain, loneliness, boredom, terror and loss? The human characteristics argument aside though, can you - or anyone - honestly say that a chicken's life is less important to it than yours is to you, or mine is to me? No, you can't. All life is precious, all beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, even if they can't comprehend those things in human terms.[/p][/quote]What a load of sentimental drivel, i like chickens i have three, they lay very tasty eggs in the summer. I don't think the life of my chickens is more important than my own. Does this wonderfully diverse equality of species run to the common house fly? O dear.[/p][/quote]Or equally as important. freddie_W
  • Score: 0

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