Aug18

Science Exonerates Conventional Cage Systems for Poultry

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES), nearing completion of a two-flock research study to better understand the sustainability impacts of various types of laying hen housing  including cage-free aviary, enriched cage and conventional cage systems has released preliminary research results. Over the course of three years and two separate flocks, CSES noted that the research assessed five areas of sustainability: (1) animal health and well-being, (2) environmental impact, (3) food affordability, (4) food safety and (5) worker health and safety. A complete overview of the preliminary results is available at www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org.

 

Egg farmers understand the importance of these statistics of mortality, hen-day and hen-housed egg production, case weight and feed conversion, but when operating costs and capital costs are factored in, today’s modern conventional cage system is providing an affordable table egg that in addition provides a humane, lower environmental impact, safe and wholesome production system.  Again science continues to exonerate conventional cages for producing eggs.

 

1. Hen production performance (19-78 weeks), first flock summary

Production parameter

Conv.

Enriched

Aviary

Ref.*

Cumulative mortality, %

4.7

5.1

11.6

6.8

Avg. hen-day egg production, %

85.9

89.0

88.1

88.2

Eggs per hen housed

352

363

340

360

Case weight, lb./case

46.4

46.9

46.3

48.6

Feed/cwt., lb./100 bd-day

22.8

23.6

23.3

22.4

Water/feed, lb./lb.

2.07

1.73

1.64

Feed conversion, lb./doz. eggs

3.18

3.13

3.28

3.14

Feed conversion, lb. feed/lb. eggs

2.02

1.99

2.12

1.94

Bodyweight at week 78, lb.

3.44

3.42

3.37

3.71

*Lohmann white reference value.

 

2. Operating and capital costs per dozen eggs, $

 

Conv.

Aviary

Enriched

Feed costs

0.395

0.408

0.394

Production labor costs

0.017

0.057

0.047

Pullet cost

0.146

0.196

0.147

Capital cost* (capital outlay x 10% return)

0.042

0.138

0.104

Sum of major cost components

0.600

0.799

0.692

*Preliminary data.

Source for Tables: Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply.