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Free Range Chicken Farm

20 years cage-free
Woolies is awarded for its contribution to the welfare of laying hens

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More than 3 decades ago The Humane Education Trust (HET) began a campaign to highlight the suffering of laying hens in battery cages, and eventually presented 28 000 signatures to the Minister of Agriculture for the abolition of battery cages. Thousands of supporter postcards arrived at Woolworths and Pick n Pay asking for free range eggs.

See page 2 here


By 2004, both Woolworths and Pick n Pay responded to customer outcry over the notion of keeping a hen in a space allowance of less than an A4 sheet of paper for life. Free-range eggs became an option at both Woolworths and Pick n Pay, and eventually at other supermarkets too.


However, Woolworths took an extra giant leap and banned battery eggs from its stores altogether, in favour of free-range eggs.

See pages 1 & 2 here



the retailer sells over 140 million free-range eggs a year and on 25th April 2024, Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming (the leading inter-national farmed animal welfare organisation to which The Humane Education Trust became affiliated along the way) presented Woolworths with an Award in recognition of 20 Years Cage-Free.

Said Philip, "Woolworths' outstanding contri-bution to animal welfare means that around 450 000 laying hens annually live free-range lives and never see the inside of a cage.


“I am delighted to extend my congratulation to Woolworths for their outstanding commitment.


“As farm animal welfare gains global momentum, this award underscores Woolworths’ pivotal role in Africa, championing improved conditions for laying hens. It symbolises their dedication to addressing customer concerns about animal welfare, ensuring that the hens under their care are raised to elevated standards of welfare.”


Zyda Rylands, Woolworths CEO Food, responded:

“We are incredibly proud to receive this award as an acknowledgement of our unwavering dedication to animal welfare and ethical sourcing. Our work on cage-free eggs, shaped by continuous dialogue and collaboration with animal welfare groups like Compassion in World Farming, represents just once facet of Woolworths’ ongoing Good Business Journey. Animal welfare is of paramount importance to both Woolworths and our customers, and this motivates us to continually enhance and improve all aspect of animal health and well-being.”

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CEO of Compassion in World Farming, Philip Lymbery, presents Zyda Rylands, CEO Woolworths Food,

with Compassion’s award for 20 years cage-free.

Standing with them is Animal Voice Editor, Louise van der Merwe (left) and

Latiefa Behardien, Woolworths Food Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer (right)

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Your editor, campaigning in 1993 for the abolition of battery farming.  

(The battery hens in the cage went on to live full and robust lives)

Note from Ed:

Thank you Woolies for the beautiful orchid you gave me on the occasion of your Award in recognition of 20 years Cage-Free, together with your valued note.

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The battle for a national ban on battery cages continues, as more than 18 million of South Africa's laying hens remain trapped in the torment of a tiny cage.

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