Since 2010 battery cages are banned in Germany. In order to assess effects of colony and aviary systems on animal welfare, emissions, and production, FLI coordinated a large joint project running from 2010 to 2013. Data was obtained from 19 farms with colony systems and 47 farms with aviary systems. Prevalence of feather pecking and keel bone damage was high in both systems but mortality and ammonia emissions were higher in aviary systems. Productivity was comparable in both systems but depended on herd size. There are possibilities and needs for improvements in both systems but aviary systems offer better preconditions with regard to animal welfare. The high variation between farms suggests that management skills have a significant impact on the outcomes of both systems. However, the management effort is higher in aviary systems in particular for preventing and treating feather pecking and cannibalism. Colony systems are still perceived as cages by the public and will be banned from 2025 in Germany.
In Switzerland, cages have been forbidden since 1992. Twelve years before the ban was enacted in the European Union (EU). There was a total change to cage-free systems, while in the EU enriched cages still are allowed. In 2016, 75% of the Swiss layers were kept in free-range systems. With these new systems, the “old problems” from the 1950s occurred again. Parasites such as coccidia, worms and red mites must be fought more often. Bacterial infections such as E. coli, Pasteurella, Mycoplasma and Coryza also cause problems. During events such as Avian Influenza outbreaks, free range often leads to a higher risk of infection. Management plays a big role in feather pecking and cannibalism. Pullet rearing systems must be designed and managed to best prepare the bird for their future life in cage-free systems.
The development of keel bone damage has been recognized as an important issue affecting hens in alternative housing systems. In addition to raising animal welfare concerns due to the likely pain associated with keel fractures and deformations, their high incidences have economically important consequences. Keel abnormalities have been associated with increased mortality, reduced carcass value, and reduced egg production efficiency and quality. Previous research into the causes of keel bone damage has been indirect, often linking overall prevalence of damage to the presence or absence of a resource, and has focused largely on aviary and barn systems. The principle aim of this study was to examine the types or magnitudes of impacts experienced at the keel by hens housed in enriched colony systems, and link the relationships between the impacts experienced at the keel by live birds, the behaviors associated with these impacts, and the development of keel bone damage.
OneEgg is committed to providing “more eggs to more kids” with a commitment to serving communities economically, socially and spiritually. OneEgg currently operates in 8 countries and partners with The Tyson Foods Fellows program to provide expertise in the areas of poultry science, veterinarian services and animal husbandly. In regions where there is a lack of egg supply, OneEgg has invested in sustainable egg laying farms transferring capacity and accountability to the local leadership and then using a combination of the profits from the farm and generous sponsors to provide “More eggs to more more kids”. There are nearly 5,000 children current receiving eggs as part of the OneEgg initiative.
The HPAI Interim Rule (9 CFR 53 - Conditions for Payment of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Indemnity Claim), which will link indemnity payments to biosecurity when the Final Rule is published, was published last year and is in the process of being finalized. After the HPAI Interim Rule was developed, the General Conference Committee (GCC) of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) worked to develop what are referred to as the “14 Biosecurity Points”. These were edited and vetted through several poultry organizations and associations prior to becoming a finalized and official proposal at the 43rd NPIP Biennial Conference in Bellevue, WA, in September 2016. After further edits during the Biennial Conference, the proposal to incorporate the 14 Biosecurity Points was unanimously accepted to become part of Subpart E of the Program Standards document. Now, the 14 Points are awaiting USDA clearance before formal adoption into the NPIP Program Standards. Training of implementation is expected to occur beginning in May 2017.