Something good is happening to the poultry industry

Something good is happening to the poultry industry

The poultry industry showed a lean growth in 2020 but has adapted and the stage is being set for it to take off along with COVID-19 vaccination.

The poultry industry is alive and kicking and I think something has been done well to support it. There is so much information of all sorts these days, that it is hard to keep up, as well as to distinguish and decide which is good and how to correlate it. Notwithstanding, I think good things are happening. 

First of all, workers at processing plants, who initially were pointed out as a focus of COVID-19, are now experiencing lower infection rates as compared to other industries. According to the North American Meat Institute, in the U.S. the rate is 85% lower than the general population, whereas in Spain, the average week shows a 0.18% sick leave rate among workers in the food industry, which is half or less than other activities.

All of this is the result of actions taken within the industry to avoid contagion that stemmed in an almost uninterrupted supply chain and in keeping most jobs. But it is also the reflection of the growth in the sector.

I know many countries in Latin America show a negligible growth, with some poultry companies basically maintaining the same production rates, but in general, the sector has shown growth, from feed to production. For instance, Mexican feed production grew 1% in 2020, with 50% of it destined to poultry. In other parts of the world, Spanish animal production (together with agriculture, fisheries and other related areas) grew 7% in 2020.

In Rabobank’s March “Talking Points” report, the bank said that given all the sad part of the pandemic, “it is rather distasteful to talk about sectors having a “great year” but certainly many of the big packaged food companies were net beneficiaries of pandemic trends.” And in poultry, Rabobank says we are in the recuperating phase.

I am certain that the industry has done good things, ranging from health to biosecurity to finances to being resilient.

If we consider the fact that the U.S. is rapidly vaccinating the population, this will be an important trigger for the rest of the world. There is no doubt about it.

Latin American countries are going slower in terms of vaccination, but are moving along. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Brazil (yes, Brazil) has applied 30.8 million first-shot vaccines, Mexico (yes, Mexico) 12.2 million, Chile 12.2 million, Argentina 5.6 million, and Colombia 3.2 million, to mention the top 5. Let’s hope for the best.

What do you think?


Sale of foie gras to be banned in UK?

Sale of foie gras to be banned in UK?
No longer part of the European Union, the UK may soon prohibit the sale of foie gras

You cannot produce foie gras in the U.K., but you can buy it – although perhaps not for much longer.

Press speculation earlier this week that sale of the product may be outlawed prompted the country’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to issue a slightly ambiguous response, but the product does look likely to be disappearing from shop shelves and restaurant menus soon.

DEFRA has stated that now that the U.K. has left the European Union, the government is exploring further restrictions that could be introduced to address welfare concerns around foie gras production, adding that it has made clear that production from ducks or geese using force feeding raises serious welfare concerns.

Raised emotions

Foie gras tends to generate strong emotions in the U.K., with some strongly in favor and some strongly against. The U.K. banned its production through the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The tide does seem to be turning against the product in the U.K. Upmarket central London supermarket Fortnum & Mason announced last month that it would phase out the sale of it. The shop had been the target of a 10-year campaign to persuade it to stop stocking foie gras.

I happened to find myself in this said supermarket a few years ago at the very moment when a foie gras protest took place.

With placards aplenty and voices raised the protestors peacefully marched through the store before heading out into the street. A civilized protest if ever there was one!

What was disappointing, however, was that, on speaking to one of the protestors, her views not only on foie gras production but also on poultry production in general were so ill-informed that I truly wondered if she was at the right demonstration!

And there would appear to be ignorance on all sides. A chef from a Michelin-starred London restaurant arguing in favor of the product told the press that if the government was concerned about animal cruelty then it should ban “battery chicken.” Exactly what he meant by that I am not sure, but battery cages for laying hens have not been used in the European Union or the U.K. since January 1, 2012.

While a number of countries and companies have ceased foie gras production, there are others that have seen output increase. If sale in the product is banned in the U.K., will it simply lead to a black market with holiday makers smuggling it back in their suitcases or attempting to have it shipped in via online retail pages?


Break a leg? You just might if you don’t eat meat

Break a leg? You just might if you don’t eat meat
Close up of a crutches and a broken leg in a plaster cast of a woman sitting on a sofa and resting.

UK study shows vegans and vegetarians may be at a higher risk of bone fractures

While proponents of vegan and vegetarian diets like to promote them as healthier than diets that include meat, a study in the United Kingdom indicates that meat eaters generally have better bone health.

I recently learned about the study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol, which analyzed data from about 54,898 U.K. residents. The research showed that when compared to people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average had a 43% higher risk of bone fractures anywhere in the body.

The study also showed that vegetarians and pescetarians (people who eat fish but no other meat) had a higher risk of hip fractures when compared to those who eat other meats, although the risk of fractures was partly reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.

The study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Also noted in the research was that in addition to a higher risk of hip fractures in vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians than the meat eaters, vegans also had a higher risk of leg fractures and other main site fractures. The authors observed no significant differences in risks between diet groups for arm, wrist or ankle fractures once BMI was taken into account.

Of the 54,898 people included in the survey, 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians, and 1,982 were vegans when they were recruited. Their eating habits were assessed initially at recruitment, then again in 2010. Participants were followed continuously for 18 years on average, until 2016 for the occurrence of fractures. During the time of the study, 3,941 fractures occurred in total, including 566 arm, 889 wrist, 945 hip, 366 leg, 520 ankle and 467 fractures at other main sites, defined as the clavicle, ribs and vertebrae.

“This is the first comprehensive study on the risks of both total and site-specific fractures in people of different diet groups. We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat. The biggest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1000 people over 10 years,” said Dr. Tammy Tong, nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and the lead author of the study.

It was noted that in this particular study, more women were subjects than men, so additional studies could be needed to get a clear-cut picture of the risks from not eating meat. It also noted that if a similar study were conducted outside of Europe, the results might be different.

But my thought on the matter is this: Who wants a fractured bone? Why take a chance?


5 aspects that will impact poultry farming in the future

5 aspects that will impact poultry farming in the future

From innovations in precision production to the consumption of alternative proteins, these are topics that will alter the industry for the next five years

It would seem difficult, but even in a well-developed industry, such as poultry, it is still feasible to take steps to improve. To do this, it is necessary to understand the market trends in each region.

“There is a clear need to develop high-quality poultry products to meet the demand of specific markets, even under challenging conditions,” said Dr. Ruud Eits, Trouw Nutrition’s global poultry director, in an interview. “It is in these kinds of things that we must innovate.”

Precision Nutrition and Production

There are new ways of looking at nutrition that are innovative, such as split feeding  , in which instead of giving a single diet throughout the day to the layers or breeders, one diet is administered in the morning and a different one in the morning. afternoon or evening, which differ in energy, amino acids and phosphorus.

In the essence of precision nutrition is knowing the particular nutritional needs of birds in certain phases of production, as well as knowing very well the raw materials with which the feed is manufactured. These two aspects cross information. That is, the hen’s physiology is different in the morning, afternoon or evening, as well as its needs. “It’s about not targeting averages, but what is required in each phase,” Eits said.

Relatively small changes in nutrition pay themselves more than financially and performance-wise, plus there is less nitrogen removal from the environment, according to Eits.

This type of precision nutrition fits perfectly with the concept of precision production, which includes different sensors and production measurements. Digital monitoring allows us to obtain more data, which must be tracked. With these measurements we see how production performs in real time, although we are just in the early days of this technology.

Another element that fits into this concept is the use of models to see how birds perform, how they will respond to diets under different conditions. “We can use all the research information and summarize it into models for application in production,” Eits added. In this way, tailor-made solutions are developed for the producer. For this, the price of meat must be taken into account, as well as the cost of raw materials

NIR technology

NIR (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) technology has traditionally been used in the evaluation of raw materials. “We can use it for other things, for example, to evaluate the structure of balanced food and thus be able to positively influence the development of the gizzard,” he said. Today, this technology has found wider uses within poultry.

The NIR can also be used in the scanning of fertile eggs to see their development – especially in the early stages – and to know if there will be any problems later. “This way, you can intervene early instead of waiting until it’s too late.”

NIR technology still has untapped possibilities that we can use. For example, the use of mobile scanners – instead of fixed ones – that are already used for rapid analysis. Once the raw materials are scanned, the data is sent through an application where the result can be viewed.


Another important aspect is the control of mycotoxins. “We are progressing more and more in doing rapid testing for mycotoxins, so instead of going to a lab and spending more expensive testing, rapid testing has become more and more precise and accurate.” This is an area that is being worked on, as it is a substantial risk for the producer.

The obvious: alternative meats

Alternative meats are going to impact our industry, although no one knows how fast or how far. They are still a very small part of the market, but it is growing and the technology is improving. “We should primarily look at consumers who are well informed, young consumers who can adopt it faster than we think,” Eits said. We must not be like ostriches.

There are large companies that have made investments or that have partnered with others, such as fast food. In general, “it is a question of image, because if we go more to the facts, they still have a long way to go until it is a better option than animal protein. We are completely convinced that the animal protein sector is very efficient and healthier, as well as providing nutrients and flavor ”.

Something interesting is that the people who switch to this type of alternative meat are those who consume chicken, more than those who consume beef or pork. “This is a bit contradictory, since they are going against meat that is more efficient,” according to Eits.

Climate change

In poultry production, “we have a great story to tell, even more so than other animal proteins, because we have made tremendous improvements in efficiency.” If you want to be efficient and avoid the production of carbon dioxide, chicken meat has the best record.

“We don’t tell people our story well enough, even young people. We must speak of real events, not emotions, “he added.


Survey: Poultry industry expects COVID-19 effects to last

Survey: Poultry industry expects COVID-19 effects to last

Poultry producers expect to be dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 for at least another six months, according to a new survey.

In the third quarter of 2020, a majority of respondents to the WATT/Rennier Poultry Confidence Index said they expect COVID-19 to impact their operations until Spring 2021 or the end of 2021.

As part of the quarterly survey, WATT Global Media is asking additional questions about the state of the poultry industry as well as emerging trends, technologies and challenges. This blog post reflects the results of the supplemental questions included in the third quarter survey conducted in August 2020. The next installment of Dr. Greg Rennier’s column reflecting the results of this survey will be published in the October issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

COVID-19 outbreak continues

Nearly six months after the outbreak began in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to define daily life. After temporary lockdowns, states and cities re-opened during the summer but new infections continue to appear.

Some hallmarks of American life are returning, but with severe restrictions. With the new school year beginning in late August and early September, some students are returning to class while others stay home. How long in-person classes will continue remains in question as students contract the virus and some schools and universities decide to suspend in-person learning. Organized sports are returning without fans or with a strictly limited number of fans. Restaurants and bars are reopening, but with attendance limits and mandatory mask wearing orders in effect.  

There is some progress made on vaccines and treatments for the novel coronavirus, but it appears the pandemic is far from over in both the U.S. and abroad.

We asked, “Has your processing, hatchery, live haul, feed mill or field vaccination operations done any of the following in response to COVID-19? (Please check all that apply)” 

  • 90% responded, “Required additional personal protective equipment for workers.”
  • 81% responded, “Added additional social distancing practice by staggering breaks and moving workers outside for breaks.”
  • 81% responded, “Added additional written messaging (posters, message boards, etc.) about COVID prevention.”
  • 80% responded, “Elevated sanitation practices in and around the plant.”
  • 63% responded, “Added additional worker training programs for COVID-19 prevention.”
  • 56% responded, “Added barriers between workers on processing lines.”
  • 19% responded, “Slowed line speeds.”

We asked, “How has COVID-19 affected your ability to staff your operation?”

  • 64% responded, “Staffing my operation is more challenging than it was before March 2020.
  • 33% responded, “My staffing levels are the same as before March 2020.”
  • 3% responded, “Staffing my operation is less challenging than it was before March 2020.”

We asked, “How long do you expect COVID-19 to impact your operations?”

  • 30% responded, “Until the end of 2021.”
  • 25% responded, “Until the end of spring 2021.”
  • 16% responded, “Until the end of 2020.”
  • 9% responded, “Until the end of winter 2020.”
  • 8% responded, “COVID-19 is not significantly affecting my business.”
  • 5% responded, “Two or more years from now.”
  • 4% responded, “Forever.”
  • 2% responded, “Until the end of fall 2020.”

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.


6 opportunities from COVID-19 for poultry industry

6 opportunities from COVID-19 for poultry industry

Some positive things have emerged amid the pandemic uncertainty that afflicts us. Let’s not lose the habit of seeing “the glass is half full” with these sips

Despite the international crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the poultry industry could see some opportunities. Those include:

1. Turn to virtuality

The need to limit physical interaction as much as possible, meetings and even the crowds of our internal and external events presents us with the challenge of really reinforcing the virtual tools of communication, promotion and sale. The issue goes beyond technological support; they are the people with specific responsibilities. Needed are adequate response times and innovation in the use of tools.

2. Alternative channels

Home delivery service in the distribution of chicken meat and eggs for the final buyers — which was being implemented in an incipient way within the poultry companies — now has the key moment to prove its worth and grow. The old fixed telephone lines must be recovered to reduce pressure on the virtual network.

3. Telecommuting

Many organizations, including some poultry businesses, are reluctant to implement alternative mechanisms such as telecommuting (working remotely) in some of their processes. The demands of the current contingency will give each company many future inputs in this regard.

4. Time to promote poultry products

Panic buying reinforces the great positioning of eggs and chicken in consumer minds as staples, even as ingredients for recipes that seek to boost the immune system (which is true). In supermarkets, both would disappear in minutes, with some cuts being picked up faster than others (for example, chicken breasts, which are included in many recipes and have been for a long time).

5. Corporate solidarity

It does not hurt to devise some relief and special service options for the HoReCa channel that, as part of the tourism and services sector, is having a very bad time and is one of the industry’s best clients. But, in addition to that, it is worth noting that we can contribute with our experience in biosecurity. Some poultry farmers in Spain have understood this and have made their technical staff and equipment available to the health authorities at no cost for tasks such as spraying agents or specific cleaning of public areas, if applicable. 

6. More formalization and associativity

Finally, this grave crisis demands that we unite more than ever as an industry in each country and reinforce the need to formalize agribusiness increasingly. One of the ideal conjunctures for this is in the announced general reliefs that each government is devising to avoid an economic debacle and the protection of employment. Preference criteria for the organized and compliant entrepreneur must be requested from the authorities, as well as the channelling of aid with the assistance of the already constituted associations.


Vaccinating poultry processing workers is a priority

Vaccinating poultry processing workers is a priority

Now that vaccination against COVID-19 seems to be coming soon, in addition to health personnel and the elderly, meat packing workers should be prioritized.

Governments seem stunned at the pandemic, in the sense that after nine months, a myriad of administrative procedures are not yet possible. Government offices in many countries remain closed. I think they have not realized that there are masks, home office and the Cloud, alcoholic gel, transparent acrylic screens to serve the public, social distancing, foot dips, and a host of measures that are already in place in many regions.

They have simply not been adapted. Zero resilience.

However, the meat processing industry, including the poultry processing industry, made a series of immediate changes to protect workers and, above all, not disrupt the supply chain. Workers have been on the front line of meat supply.

That is why the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has just issued a letter urging U.S. authorities to consider meat packing plant workers as a priority in the COVID-19 vaccination process. This, of course, does not detract from the priority of those who work in the health sector and the elderly in retirement homes.

I would like to emphasize that in these months there have been attempts to blame the poultry industry for their high concentration of personnel and for the fact that there were some disease outbreaks. The industry responded without a word of complaint. Adaptations were immediately made, demonstrating great resilience. And, as the NAMI press release says, “the supply chain remains intact.”

This resilience demonstrated by new equipment and facility adaptations, personal protective equipment, improved ventilation systems, disinfection programs and protocols, a multitude of tests and a titanic training task have kept COVID-19 at bay in meat plants, while figures generally affect virtually all countries.

I welcome the NAMI initiative, which does not only give priority to its workers, real covidian heroes, but implicitly recognizes the work done by the meat and poultry industry.

So you may still be unable to obtain a birth certificate or a passport, but you will be able to eat chicken.

What do you think?

Benefits of olive bioactives in gut health

Benefits of olive bioactives in gut health

For optimal animal performance and well-being it is essential to support intestinal health. Olive bioactives could be considered as an interesting tool to fight against gut disorders derived from stressful situations in poultry farming.

Olives and olive oil are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are associated with having many beneficial effects on health and especially for being a source of large amounts of valuable monounsaturated fatty acids, although a huge majority of described benefits are mainly attributed to the presence of other minor bioactive compounds, including flavonols, polyphenols (i.e. hydroxytyrosol), secoiridoids (i.e. oleuropein), tocopherols, and triterpenes (i.e. oleanolic acid, maslinic acid) among others. Biological activities related to them include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-artherogenic and anti-tumour properties. The tremendous potential of these bioactive compounds has inevitably expanded the research around the generation of bioactive-rich olive extracts and the benefits of their use in different fields.

Challenges in broilers production

During the short but intensive production cycle of broiler chickens, animals are submitted to multiple challenges, which includes dietary changes, pathogen exposure and high density etc . The adaptation process to these stressful situations involves a subclinical inflammatory response which if it is not properly solved, can become chronic. This status of subclinical chronic inflammation affects gastrointestinal function and health (Figure 1), leading to a lowered nutrient absorption and the consequent energy expenditure derived from the immune system activation. Unpaired metabolism has a direct negative impact on animal performance, with the associated economical loses. Recently, these problems were hidden with the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) but after their ban in 2006 they arose again, and there is still a needed to find cost -effective alternatives.

Figure 1 – Gastrointestinal function in healthy and damaged gut.

How to study gut health in poultry?

There are different biomarkers for monitoring intestinal health in poultry; each one is providing specific information and therefore, they are complementary. Several authors reviewed the most appropriate biomarkers to evaluate gut health in poultry, classifying them depending on the target of study: intestinal integrity (tight junction components, histology -villi length and crypt depth-, transepithelial electrical resistance- TEER), gut permeability markers (i.e. mannitol and lactulose, for transcellular and paracellular transport, respectively) and immune status (cytokines, acute phase proteins, etc.). Unfortunately, most of the current biomarkers require invasive sampling and specific laboratory analyses (ELISA, RT-qPCR, HPLC, etc.) limiting their use in the research field. Nevertheless, nowadays, different reports about the development of rapid and non-invasive techniques that could be applied directly on the farm have been published; with the most promising ones based on the detection of molecules ending up in the excreta and litter.

In summary, the analysis of several markers is mandatory when evaluating the efficacy of a feed additive focused on gut health, in order to deeply understand its mode of action, which is usually quite complex.

Figure 2A – Effect of experimental diets (CON-control, MON-monensin and OB-olive bioactives) on performance of broilers.

Use of olive bioactives in poultry

Several studies have evaluated the effects of standardised mixtures of olive bioactives in poultry, with special emphasis on gut health. Animals who received olive bioactives in their feeds showed positive results on performance versus the control group (broilers- Figure 2A and turkeys-Figure 2B), especially under challenging situations. Therefore, to better understand the mode of action of this family of products, several biomarkers (in vitro and in vivo) have been measured to have a wider vision of their biological effects into the animal, with especial focus on gut function and the inflammatory status of the animal.

Figure 2B – Effect of experimental diets (CON-control and OB-olive bioactives) on performance of turkeys.

Preliminary cell studies demonstrated the potential activity of these olive bioactives on reducing oxidative stress (augmented catalase and glutathione gene expressionin IPEC-J2 cells), reducing inflammation (prevented IL-1β and iNOS gene overexpression in Raw 264.7 cells) and improving gut integrity (improved TEER and upregulated tight junctions gene expression in IPEC-J2 cells). In these trials, cells were immune challenged with LPS and data showed prevention of negative consequences derived from the LPS challenge after pre-incubation with olive bioactives.

To explore the mode of action of a specific formulation based on olive bioactives in broiler chicken diets and their potential benefits, Lucta and its collaborators performed different in vivo trials. In a first trial, birds supplemented with olive bioactives improved animal growth as a result of its immunomodulatory effect at the gut level. Additionally, these results were not different from those obtained with the positive control with monensin (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Effect of experimental diets (MON-monensin and OB-olive bioactives) on the expression of selected genes in the ileum.

The same olive bioactives formulation was evaluated again in an in vivo intestinal inflammatory model based on feed restriction. After a short feed restriction period, broiler chickens displayed a loss of intestinal integrity, as evidenced by a decrease in the gene expression of Claudin-1, a lower villus length/crypt depth ratio, and a higher serum lactulose/mannitol ratio. In addition, the challenge increased intestinal inflammation as suggested by the upregulation of the gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 and the Toll-Like Receptor 4 in the ileum. The supplementation of olive bioactives in the diet was able to prevent some of these negative effects, resulting in a better intestinal functionality (higher serum mannitol concentration and lower duodenal crypth depth), a modulation of the immune system (higher gene expression of the B-cell marker Bu-1) and an attenuated local inflammation (decreased gene expression of IL-8).

Promising tool

The use of specific formulations of olive bioactive compounds in broiler chicken diets may be considered as a promising tool to deal with challenging situations associated to our poultry production systems thanks to boost antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities in broilers to stabilise their physiological condition and support animal welfare.


How COVID-19 will transform the poultry industry

Poultry producers are successfully tackling challenges COVID-19 challenges, but the industry that emerges post-pandemic will be very different to the one we know today

s the poultry industry now in a portal to a different world? It may well be according to Paul Aho, president of consultancy Poultry Perspective, and what lies on the other side of that portal will be a very different world to what producers know today.

The rapid pace being forced by COVID-19 means that changes that, under normal circumstances, may have taken a decade to occur, will now be complete within just a couple of years. COVID-19 is fast-forwarding the industry to 2030.

Speaking at the Virtual PoultryTech Summit, hosted by WATT Global Media, Aho noted that change is taking place at various levels, be it evolving consumer habits, revised working practices or shifting patterns of trade. The poultry industry that will emerge once the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under more control will, in many cases, be leaner and efficient, and more secure.

Aho continued that a return to any degree of normality is likely to still be some way off and may not emerge until 2022-2023 and, even then, there will still be waves and outbreaks causing significant disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus. Looking longer term, he warned that other diseases, both human and animal, will be more common occurrences.

Transformation within and without

So how is the poultry market adapting and what might it expect one the pandemic is more under control?

Changed consumer behavior can be expected to continue. This year has seen an increase in eating in home and, to some extent, this can be expected to continue even as we enter the new normal.

According to Richard Kottmeyer, managing director of FTI Consultancy, when we do, eventually, return to a degree of normality, many restaurants will simply have disappeared, unable to weather disease control measures.

This will leave the chains and quick service restaurants, and the latter are expected to be the immediate winners due to their take out offering.

A constant and growing concern for consumers will be traceability and this will tend to favor chain restaurants. They are likely win over independents due to their scale. This not only gives them a financial advantage, their size allows them to develop and implement full food traceability programs.

At production level, there is an ever-increasing move to automation, digitalization. Just in time production practices are giving way to just in case, helping to counter the fragility of supply chains that has emerged over recent months.

To further strengthen supply chains, producers are looking to alternative suppliers, and no longer want to put all of their eggs in one basket. Production will be increasingly optimized, and headcounts will be reduced.

Osler Desouzart, COE of OD Consulting, Market Planning & Strategy, noted that the changes that were quickly implemented in the Brazilian poultry industry saved if from plant closures. Now, he continued, everyone is talking about robotics, but there remained a lot of work to do.

Changes are taking place at different rates depending on the scale and location of individual companies. Gordon Butland, director of G&S Agriconsultant Co. Ltd. noted that while large poultry companies have already embraced new technologies, it is now the second-tier companies that are the adopters. Yet, he noted, in much of the world, chicken is still produced by small- or medium-sized companies and these smaller players simply will not have the resources to implement such big changes.  

While COVID is expected to cause disruption for at least another 12 months the chicken industry is expected to continue growing, even if this year is expected to see zero growth. Companies may be looking more to their home markets but global trade is still expected to absorb approximately 12% of production.

Headcounts will be reduced, automation increased and product mix may change, and, as ever consumer demands will increase, but the fast pace of change currently being witnessed in poultry production around the world, should see the poultry sector continuing to satisfy the upward demand for animal protein. Will it have reached where it was forecast to be in 2030? It may well have.

Attend the 2021 Poultry Tech Summit

Join an exclusive international gathering of industry-changing innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, technology experts, investors and leading poultry producers at the 2021 edition of Poultry Tech Summit on October 31 – November 2 in Atlanta, Georgia.Attendees can expect the same groundbreaking innovation and insightful presentations that made the previous events well-attended with deep dialogue on new prospective solutions and developing technologies.

Why cage-free production ceased 50 years ago

Why cage-free production ceased 50 years ago

Cage-free egg production turned into cage confinement for several reasons, including humane ones

My blog last week about traditional egg production and cage-free egg production caused several positive reactions. On that occasion I asked to be informed about whether any organization promoted the benefits of traditional production. And that was the case. I was contacted by Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers in the United States, who provided me with several interesting concepts.

Subject to a full article later, I summarize here some insights, based on more than 40 years of Klippen’s experience in producing eggs and evidence from researchers. The question is: Why did we stop producing cage-free eggs about 50 years ago?

There are several reasons for this. I will mention only a few. Has anyone thought of the pecking order hens establish? When the population is limited to a few birds, within a cage, the damage caused by pecking and mortality is reduced. In cage-free systems it is very different. It is a matter of observing this between the traditional system and free-range systems.

In cage-free systems, keel bone breakage is higher from collisions with perches. Free hens have more external parasite issues, such as the situation in Europe with red mites. In terms of diseases, there has been a resurgence in infectious coryza in backyard flocks or the presence of spotty liver disease. In addition, access to the outside world makes them prone to other diseases.

And what about product safety? Cage-free eggs may have round worms, in addition to production of more dirty eggs, to the detriment of public health.

Sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions, and cost are all to be mentioned. Is it understood why we are producing with cages?

So, it is not so humane to leave hens loose there, as it is believed. No one in his healthy judgment produces eggs in cages to disturb, to make hens suffer, to oppress a species. It is a matter of profitability, health, ecology, and food production at a fair and affordable price.

What do you think?

Benjamin Ruiz