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Did you know that Malaysia ranked the lowest, along with Vietnam and Bangladesh in the Asia Cage-Free Benchmark’s 2024 Report, meaning we’ve had the least progress in the transition to cage-free farming?

I didn’t, until I attended an event called The Wings of Progress for Better Welfare on March 22.

Thankfully, that event was actually spotlighting an effort that’s tackling this issue. Specifically, it was a signing ceremony for Malaysia’s first cage-free aviary, which will be launched by Teong Choon (TC) Poultry Farm.

Close Caged House System Sample / Image Credit: Humane Society International

Incorporated in 1984, the Malaysian company started out with traditional open house farming, producing 28,000 eggs per day at that time. In 2015, they introduced a new closed house farming method to improve efficiency, and by 2020 was producing 110,000 eggs per day.

Now in 2024, the company seeks to roll out the first large-scale commercial cage-free aviary system in not just Malaysia but Southeast Asia. With this, they target to produce over 60,000 cage-free eggs per day by the end of Q2 of 2024.

Cracking down on the issue  

Set to open around June this year, this aviary will be going against the inhumane norm of using battery cages to rear egg-laying hens.

At the event, Dr Sara Shields of Humane Society International (HSI), shared that hens are curious, active, and social animals—but most of the 105 million hens used for egg production in Malaysia are confined to small wire cages.

These cages typically offer each hen less space than a single letter-sized sheet of paper.  

Dr. Saravanakumar Supramaniam Pillai (Senior Adviser, Farm Animal Welfare, Policy and Engagement, for HSI Malaysia) added: “Cage confinement is outdated and doesn’t meet the scientifically documented behavioral needs of the hens.”

Representatives at the signing ceremony / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

“Hens kept for egg production are sentient beings and we must provide them with good welfare,” he reminded.

So, instead, TC Poultry Farm will utilise a cage-free aviary housing system, allowing more freedom of movement for the birds to walk, run, jump, and stretch their wings. The first barn will house over 16,000 hens.

This expansion will be done with equipment provided by Big Dutchman, a poultry equipment company headquartered in Germany. The upcoming aviary will also leverage Internet of Things (IoT) to automate the farm, ensuring the hens are well taken care of.

HSI has also facilitated technical assistance for TC Poultry Farm, and will continue to provide such support to the farm through their expansion and operation of the new barns.

Is the price right?

The resulting eggs from this aviary will be sold under the brand of Genki Eggs.

But as consumers, you may be wondering—at what cost?

While a specific figure has not been ascertained, since the farm is not yet up and running, a figure thrown around during the Q&A session was at least 30 sen more than your usual pack of eggs—not a tall order for those willing to pay a premium for animal welfare.

In any case, it’s important to keep in mind that in Malaysia, there is a ceiling price for eggs.

You might also be wondering whether these eggs have better nutritional value, health benefits, or improved taste. But the likely answer, based on others’ research, is no.  

The Q&A session / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

As Dr Sara Shields pointed out during the Q&A session, the point of cage-free eggs is not to serve us consumers, but rather our feathered friends.

Something else that was clarified during the Q&A was the difference between “cage-free” and “free-range”. For the latter, it involves outdoor access, which arguably offers more freedom for the hens. But that mobility might be dangerous and expensive as there can be natural predators that loom outside the farm compounds.

Birds of a feather

To really set this cage-free journey up for success, though, it’ll take more than just one farm.

That’s why it’s critical that big names such as OldTown White Coffee has chosen to work with TC Poultry Farm to offer eggs from cage-free hens throughout the chain’s Malaysian locations.

Joining them is Beacon Mart, the business behind Beacon Chicken, who has committed to exclusively offer eggs from cage-free hens across their grocery chain by 2030.

With this, it seems like a major revenue stream for TC Poultry Farm may lie in the B2B sector, offering F&B and retail businesses an opportunity to advocate for animal welfare.

Even though the eggs may not taste any different from the regular ones, we’re excited to know that Malaysia has taken a step forward in improving our egg industry, transitioning from battery cages to a more humane cage-free system.

  • Learn more about Teong Choon Poultry Farm here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Tiew Siew Sien, Managing Director at Teong Choon Poultry Farm

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)