When Egg Farmers of Alberta adopted its new hen housing policy back in 2013, becoming just the second province to begin the process of transitioning away from conventional cages, we did so with the hope that a similar national policy would be adopted in the near future. Over the past two years, EFA has worked closely with Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) and the other provincial egg boards, to reach a consensus. EFA applauds EFC for the formal announcement made today, to officially begin the Canadian egg industry’s transition away from conventional cages!

The transition will take place over a period of 20 years, with no new conventional housing systems installed on Canadian egg farmers after July 1, 2016. Under the plan, the industry expects to achieve about a 50/50 mix in 8 years, and about 85% alternative production in 15 years. The industry-wide decision was made using the best available scientific research, and takes hen welfare, human health, resource implications, environmental impacts, food production sustainability, and consumer preferences into account.

Pioneering an innovative, forward-looking approach is nothing new to Alberta’s egg industry, especially on the topic of hen housing:

  • 2005: Canada’s first enrichable housing system was installed by an egg farmer in Beiseker, AB
  • 2009: North America’s first furnished (enriched) housing systems were installed by egg farmers in Cardston, AB and Gem, AB
  • 2013: Alberta became just the second province to prohibit the installation of any new conventional cage housing systems, effective December 31, 2014

As of the end of 2015, over 16% of the eggs laid in Alberta are from hens housed in an alternative housing system:

EFA has also established a target of having at least 32% of provincial egg production in alternative housing systems by the end of 2020. Thanks to the passion and support of our farmers, in terms of both their dedication to providing the highest quality of care for their birds and their commitment to meeting shifting consumer demands, EFA believes that such an aggressive goal is attainable!

Today’s monumental announcement reaffirms the national egg industry’s goal of providing every Canadian with a stable supply of fresh, high quality, nutritious, locally produced eggs, while maintaining our farmers’ social license to operate. The adoption of this national hen housing policy also reassures EFA that the provincial policy we adopted in 2013 was the right thing to do for the hens, our farmers, the egg supply chain, consumers, and all other industry stakeholders.

For Alberta egg farmers, sustainable egg production is socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable. EFA applauds EFC and all the provincial egg boards, for adopting a national hen housing policy that is in the best interest of ensuring that Canada’s egg industry remains sustainable for future generations!