May 2016: End -of-Lay Innovation networks established
Four networks focusing on end-of-lay transport and handling have been established. One in the United Kingdom, one in the Czech Republic, one in The Netherlands and one in Sweden.
The end-of-lay network in Sweden shows a great interest in mobile slaughtering. There is currently no mobile slaughter facility for laying hens in Sweden and the network is planning to visit such a facility in Norway. This mobile slaughter facility is owned and managed by one of the Norwegian packers. However improving the welfare of the birds by avoiding transport through mobile slaughter when using the traditional electrical water bath stunning may obviously not be that innovative, and therefore the network is also interested in new stunning methods. One such method may be the LAPS-method (Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning). Currently this method is not yet available in Europe. A further interest of the Swedish network is best practice when catching and handling the birds at the end of lay. This will be one of the areas where the network will discuss possible innovation.
The Czech network will be trialing ways of reducing DOAs in transport applying international knowledge and best practices. The Dutch network is looking at supplying nutrients via the drinking water to benefit bird welfare in transit.
The network in the United Kingdom has formed and had one face-face meeting and much telephone and e-mail discussion regarding options for improving efficiency of moving birds between furnished cages and transport lorries. The welfare of the birds would be improved if they could be loaded directly into their transport container at the cage front thus avoiding carrying them upside down, single-leg carrying and potential injuries from being hit against objects whilst being carried down the long aisles. Let us not forget the considerable benefits for the human catchers too if their exhausting workload could be reduced. This network could well expand to having an international focus as already we have been meeting with a family in Belgium, who have developed a number of options for getting part-module drawers into the houses. We have information on dollies used to transport piles of crates into Dutch aviaries and will also be looking into some French options.
On European level we are looking at stocking density in terms of transporting end-of-lay birds in winter as discussion on this issue revealed current EU guidelines could be leading to greater losses of birds from hypothermia. Evidence is needed to investigate this further, with the possibility of being able to suggest more appropriate stocking densities. Accordingly, all five partner countries are trying to obtain data to build an international database to analyse for risk factors relating to mortality during transport at the end-of-lay (commonly termed DOA).