TITLE: Supporting high welfare cage-free egg production in China. AUTHOR: K. Hartcher. KEYWORDS: Chickens; poultry; eggs; farmers; animal welfare; China.
Kate Hartcher, PhD.
Collaborating and in consultation with local Chinese producers and animal welfare experts, and based on surveys of cage-free farms in China, three pressing practical issues are addressed in this Guidance Memo: 1) Diseases (especially concerning biosecurity, vaccination, euthanasia). 2) Optimizing egg production, bird and shed management (especially concerning severe feather pecking, environment to allow natural behaviors, floor eggs). 3) Managing modern commercial breeds. These issues are considered by Chinese cage-free eggs producers to be very important.
Emphasis is given to the importance of understanding, training and investment in key management aspects, particularly the prevention and control of severe feather pecking and infectious diseases in order to maintain a healthy flock and operate a successful and profitable production business.
The critical importance of involving and listening to the producers themselves when trying to raise animal welfare standards is also highlighted.
This report shows that improving cage-free layer hen welfare in China is quite feasible, and such improvement is beneficial for producers as well as layer hens.