Eggs in a box© REX/Shutterstock

More than 75,000 people have signed a petition started by 14-year-old Sheffield schoolgirl Lucy Gavaghan calling on Tesco to end the sale of eggs from caged and barn-kept hens.

Ms Gavaghan, who has three rescue hens, started the petition on the online platform following an unsuccessful letter-writing campaign.

Writing on her petition page, she says very few consumers understand the egg production industry: “Lots of eggs sold to us in stores come from hens kept in barns and ‘enriched cages’. Conditions are cramped and very restrictive. The hens never see the light of day or get to experience a natural lifestyle.” Barn systems do not represent much of an improvement, she adds.

See also: Free-range egg prices start to slip

In the petition to Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, Ms Gavaghan says companies such as Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencers and Waitrose stopped selling eggs from caged hens years ago, adding that McDonalds had recently followed suit after consumer pressure.

In response, Tesco said it was committed to high animal welfare standards and that all of its egg producers had to be fully compliant with the Lion assurance scheme, as well as meeting additional Tesco welfare standards.

A spokesperson added: “Eggs from caged hens are clearly labelled as such, so that shoppers can make an informed decision on what they wish to buy.”

A box of 15 Tesco Everyday Value Eggs from caged hens retails at £1.25, or 8p/egg on its website. This compares with £2.00, or 13.3p/egg, for 15 own-brand free-range eggs, and £2.00 or 20p/egg for 10 Happy Eggs.