"Comfort plus" for chickens
In the past week, I visited the VIV China animal tradeshow in the Chinese capital Beijing. As usual, shows like these are very good opportunities to meet with professionals from the industry, share knowledge and information and get an idea about the current level of technology in such a country. Highly interesting again. And don’t underestimate the level of technology which is being used in China.
Apart from attending the tradeshow, I also had the chance to visit a very well managed and professional layer operation nearby Beijing (more about that will appear as a report in an upcoming edition of World Poultry). Here I noticed the state of professionalism and the hygiene standards the management is taking, to keep this operation free from disease and maintain a highly productive layer flock of course. Regrettably, (but logical) I couldn't go inside the houses to see the birds. But I was told that these are kept in Chinese make 8-tier traditional cage systems.
At VIV, I noticed the wide range of local suppliers of housing systems that were on display. And the traditional models and cage sizes that are available. That made me think again about the cage ban for layers in the EU which went in operation in January 2012 and which most likely, will also find acceptance in the USA sooner or later. The state of California is taking the lead in this respect.
In the plane on my way back from Beijing to Amsterdam, I was thinking about what I had seen and noticed on the layer housing side at VIV. And I was trying to imagine how a chicken must feel inside a traditional cage, together with three or four more birds. With some fantasy a bit similar to passengers in an airplane.
Almost being fixed in a narrow seat for about 10 hours is not really a pleasure. But the outlook is that this situation is just very temporary and will come to an end soon... And choosing a "comfort plus" seat for a bit more legroom and convenience at additional expense, is even an option. A chicken doesn't have the understanding of such an outlook. And in many cases the "comfort plus" option for cages is not available either. But a chicken will for sure feel comfortable under good welfare conditions. And this will lead to well performing birds. That has been proven through extensive research, which has been the basis of the current legislation in Europe. Strongly endorsed by public opinion of course, that must also be said.
So there is still a long way to go in this respect in quite a few regions in the world. But who knows will "comfort plus" one day also be available for chickens in China?
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