Dr. Craig Rowles of Iowa Cage Free, LLC highlighted some of the production considerations he has compiled from his team of cage-free experts who work with the birds every day. He used a video to illustrate what really happens when hens establish a pecking order. He discussed how this process when it occurs among a limited group of birds (such as a cage) is fairly quick. He continued that with cage-free there are different population dynamics that come into play and there is not one way to solve this issue.
Rowles took time to address the future of the industry given the cage-free pledges. One participant asked, “Is there any teeth in these pledges to back up what we are spending as an industry?” Rowles answered, “The short answer is, no.” He continued by saying that is comes down to the business model you are trying to work in and that requires knowing what your customer expectations are. “This situation is dicey at best,” stated Rowels. “It is a really, really hard call from a management and ownership perspective.”