Hens

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ALL our eggs are FREE RANGE

Our egg-laying hens live outdoors during the day, pecking among trees that cover at least 5% of the paddock. They’re kept in houses at night, with access to perches and pecking spots. 

We haven't sold eggs laid by caged hens since 2001 and in 2008, we became the first UK supermarket to sell only free range.

It's this kind of long-term commitment that wins Waitrose awards for its farming. Look out for our animal welfare marque on our own-label eggs, dairy, meat and fish.

Award-winning supermarket for animal welfare
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We set the STANDARD in good egg farming

  • At Waitrose, we have our own breed of hen called the British Blacktail, an active bird who is well suited to life outdoors.

  • We stopped selling eggs from caged hens in 2001, more than 10 years ahead of a European Union ban.

  • In 2008 we became the first UK supermarket to sell only free range eggs, including those used as ingredients.

  • We're committed to higher standards of animal welfare – that's why none of our hens have their beaks trimmed. We are the only UK supermarket to guarantee this.
  • All our eggs are supplied by farms we know and trust. The birds have space to roam, shelter and dust bathe. Inside their houses, they have access to food and fresh water and areas for perching and laying eggs.

  • We’ve been recognised for our commitment to cage-free eggs by Compassion in World Farming with the Good Egg Award, which we’ve held since 2008.

  • Most of our egg boxes are made entirely from sustainable, recycled materials – as well as being fully recyclable too.

MEET the farmer

Duncan makes sure his organic free range British Blacktail hens can behave as they would in their natural habitat.

“We’re a family farming business that goes back more than 100 years, and my brothers and I are the fourth generation,” says Duncan. “I started with hens when I finished agricultural college – I’d looked at different systems, and whenever I saw organic hens, they seemed happy and contented.

“The birds have free access to the outside during the day – I wouldn’t want to spend all day in a shed, so my chickens shouldn’t have to either. They should have the chance to be chickens, and behave as they would in their natural habitat.

“Chickens are natural ground foragers, and they love scratching around for bugs and worms. If it’s rained overnight, they know, and in the morning they’ll run to find the worms that have come to the surface.

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British Blacktail hens love scratching the ground for bugs and worms

‘We’re a family farming business that goes back more than 100 years, and my brothers and I are the fourth generation‘

“It’s our job to make sure that they get outside and get lots of stimulation. You have to think like a chicken – if it’s 500 metres from the middle of the range to the shed, that’s a long run for them, so if you want them to range, you make sure there are trees and other bits of shelter in between.

“We have little tin huts too, so if it rains, they can keep dry without going back inside. We only shut them in at night for protection from foxes.

“Organic chickens have more space than in other systems, and flock sizes are smaller, so you do get to know them.

“There’s always a character or two in every shed, one that’ll come up and say hello every morning. And if I’m outside, they’ll come and check out what I’m doing, and follow me around.

“I’m absolutely certain that happy hens lay better eggs. We have an honesty box at the end of the drive where we sell ‘seconds’ – our equivalent of wonky veg – and when people taste our eggs for the first time, they can’t believe how nice they are.”

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Did you KNOW?

Launched in 1998, the British Lion Quality mark guarantees that eggs have been laid by British hens vaccinated against salmonella. Around 85% of UK eggs are stamped with it. All eggs sold at Waitrose carry the British Lion Quality mark.

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