Aeres University of Applied Sciences (Aeres) in the Netherlands has partnered with consultancy firm Global Food Partners (GFP) to establish a training centre to offer farmers the necessary training and tools to ensure long-term sustainability and competitiveness in cage-free egg production in Southeast Asia.
The predominant commercial method of housing for layer hens in Southeast Asia is conventional cage systems, however, corresponding with a global increased awareness of animal welfare have come many commitments by multinational companies with operations in Asia to source eggs solely from cage-free farms.
But, despite this progress, egg producers need hands-on, technical, and localised guidance and expertise to carry out this transition to best practice cage-free production. “At Aeres we want to contribute to a healthy livestock sector which produces and distributes food in a sustainable way, with opportunities and respect for people, animals and nature, and improve the quality of life. To achieve this, skilled, flexible and enterprising professionals with a balance between economical, ecological and social interests are needed,” says Jasper Heerkens, researcher and lecturer in poultry at Aeres.
Producers in Asia are witnessing quickly-expanding market opportunities in cage-free egg production and benefit from localized, hands-on training to support their transition to cage-free systems,” – Elissa Lane, GFP’s CEO.
The training centre, which is based in Indonesia, will therefore not only offer training in best practices in cage-free management and production, but it will also serve as a model farm for cage-free producers, as well as a research and development facility.
The training centre will house approximately 3,000 hens and serve 3 main functions:
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GFP works with food industries across Asia to implement and maintain high animal welfare standards, with the current focus on the transition from cage to cage-free egg production and the sourcing of cage-free eggs. GFP will also conduct focus groups with cage and cage-free egg producers in 5 countries in the region to identify the unique needs and barriers in local egg industry, and to subsequently work to address these challenges. “Producers in Asia are witnessing quickly-expanding market opportunities in cage-free egg production and benefit from localized, hands-on training to support their transition to cage-free systems,” said Elissa Lane, GFP’s CEO. “The current global crisis has also resulted in greater industry focus on improved biosecurity and health management practices on-farm, which can have a drastic impact on public health.”