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Pilot project to support the transition to cage-free systems for laying hens in the EU

On the 21st of May 2021, the project “Best practices for alternative egg production systems” (‘Best Practice Hens’) has started. This project aims to collate knowledge on best practices regarding husbandry of pullets and adult laying hens in cage-free systems (in barn, free range and organic) and to support the transition to cage-free systems for laying hens in the EU.

[Translate to English:] Aarhus Universitet deltager i et nyt EU-projekt, som skal indsamle viden, som kan understøtte omstillingen til burfrie systemer til æglæggere i EU. Foto: Ida Marie Jensen.
[Translate to English:] Aarhus Universitet deltager i et nyt EU-projekt, som skal indsamle viden, som kan understøtte omstillingen til burfrie systemer til æglæggere i EU. Foto: Ida Marie Jensen.

‘Best Practice Hens’ is a project funded by the European Union with a duration of 2 years, ending in May 2023. The consortium, selected through a tender procedure, consists of 7 partners and 2 subcontractors representing a total of 5 countries: Utrecht University (leader; NL), Wageningen University & Research (NL), the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and FoodILVO (ILVO, BE), Aarhus University (DK), Neiker (ES), the Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PL) and Ecovalia (ES). AviVet (NL) and Kipdip (PL) are involved as subcontractors.

In the first year of the project, best practices will be developed for keeping pullets and laying hens in cage-free systems. To collect input for these best practices, four case studies will be performed in countries where already a high percentage of birds is kept in cage-free systems (The Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark). Also, information on the specific situation in four target countries, that are still in transition (Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Poland) will be collected to adapt the best practices to their local conditions. Apart from management and housing aspects, specific focus will be given to animal welfare monitoring, economic and sustainability aspects. The transition towards cage-free systems should lead to improved animal welfare, farmer income and overall sustainability.

In the second year of the project, the best practices and the roadmap towards a successful transition will be presented in the four target countries (Spain, Poland, Portugal and Belgium) and at a large, international producer meeting in Brussels. During the project, specific circumstances in the target countries that may support or hinder the transition towards cage-free systems will be taken into account. Stakeholders from the egg industry, European farmers’ organisations and NGO’s will be involved in the project from the beginning. They will be represented through a Stakeholder Advisory Board 1, to collect their input on the best practices and to make sure that the advice given is relevant and supports the transition towards cage-free systems.

With Best Practice Hens, the project team aims to contribute to a sustainable transition towards cage-free housing of laying hens in Europe. 


1 EUWEP, COPA-COGECA, Eurogroup for Animals, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, EFSA, Lohmann Tierzucht, ERPA, Vencomatic.

 

Additional information

Funding

The project is funded by EU kommissionen/DG Sante    

Collaboration partners

The consortium consists of seven partners and two subcontractors:
  • Utrecht University (projectleader, NL),
  • Wageningen University & Research (NL),
  • the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO, BE),
  • Aarhus University (DK),
  • Neiker (ES),
  • the Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PL) og Ecovalia (ES).

AviVet (NL) and Kipdip (PL) are subcontractors.

External commenting

All partners have had the opportunity to comment on the article. 

  

Read more  

Visit the project website for further information: www.bestpracticehens.eu

Contact

Senior scientist: Anja Brinch Riber, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University: anja.riber@anis.au.dk

Project leader: professor T. Bas Rodenburg (t.b.rodenburg@uu.nl). 

Head of Communication: Angela Morell Pérez (ecovalia.international@ecovalia.org)