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Published on July 2, 2019

Bridging the gap between nations for successful cage-free transition

The transition to cage-free housing has left many egg producers in the US and Canada with questions on how to implement this new system successfully. For egg producers that have used the same systems for many years, they are now in a precarious situation to make sure they change systems with as few hiccups as possible. For European egg producers, this transition is well-worn territory since the cage system ban in 2012. As a global company with connections between North America and Europe, we are willing to bridge the gap to share knowledge as much as possible.

The European Layer Training Initiative (ELTI, www.elti.education) is a newly formed consortium of representatives from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden with the goal of helping the transition to non-cage laying hen housing systems that is now common in the US and Canada. Hendrix Genetics is supporter of this initiative, represented by Teun van de Braak, Product Manager. This was the first pilot training program

The training allows a small group to see firsthand how to manage issues sometimes encountered in a cage-free system – e.g. how to identify and reduce floor eggs, feather pecking, training birds to use the systems, creating a healthy environment for both birds and producers, and how to improve your biosecurity. The goal is that they will take this knowledge back home. The objective is not meant to influence any policy one way or the other, but offer the opportunity for participants to meet with European producers and industry leaders so that they can develop their own policies and protocols and decide what works best on their farms in their region. This training involves a very hands-on program as well as traditional classroom style lectures.

The first pilot training drew participants from the USA, Canada and Brazil. The participants spent one week in the Netherlands and another week in Sweden to learn best practices from egg producers.

Participants enjoyed the informative lectures, farm visits and new connections with local producers and other members of the group. Plans are in motion to organize more training sessions and continue to share knowledge for the benefit of the industry.