|Alternative egg laying systems|
|Jansen Poultry Equipment|
|Specht Ten Elsen|
Alternatives housing systems for layers
After long debates, the European Community passed directive 1999/74/EC laying down standards for the protection of laying hens.
This directive distinguishes between provisions applicable to alternative systems and so called enriched cages. The directive says that all member states shall ensure that after January 1st, 2002 all the new cages comply at least with the following requirements (Journal of the European Communities, 3. 8. 1999, L 203/55):
- Laying hens must have:
a) At least 116 inches2 (750 cm2) of cage area per hen, 93 inches2 (600 cm2) of which shall be usable; the height of the cage other than that above the usable area shall be at least 7.9 inches (20 cm) at every point, including the perch area, and no cage shall have a total area that is less than 310 inches2 (2000 cm2);
b) a nest;
c) Litter such that pecking and scratching are possible;
d) Appropriate perches allowing at least 5.9 inches (15 cm) per hen;
- A feed trough, which may be used without restriction, must be provided. Its length must be at least 4.7 inches (12 cm) multiplied by the number of hens in the cage;
- Each cage must have a drinking system appropriate to the size of the group; where nipple drinkers are provided, at least two nipple drinkers or two cups must be within the reach of each hen;
- To facilitate inspection, installation and depopulation of hens there must be a minimum aisle width of 35.4 inches (90 cm) between tiers of cages and a space of at least 13.8 inches (35 cm) must be allowed between the floor of the building and the bottom tier of cages;
- Cages must be fitted with suitable claw-shortening devices.
The member countries of the EU were allowed to pass stricter legal regulations. This was the case in Germany and Austria.As a result of the 2012 European legislation which will prohibit the production of eggs from the traditional battery cage, European Union producers are reviewing and modifying their production systems. With regard to this matter Zootecnica International will be investigating and reporting on the manufacturing and marketing of alternative egg laying systems.