The October issue of EggNotes included an update about Hatching Ideas on Animal Welfare (HIAW), a stakeholder engagement session hosted by EFA. This event brought together a wide variety of people engaged in the egg industry including retailers, researchers, government, graders, hatcheries and other service industries. You may be wondering what was discussed at the event, and what EFA plans to do with the information moving forward.

One of the greatest challenges the egg industry faces is continuing to provide animal care for layer hens that meets the expectations of society and retailers, and is based on sound scientific research. EFA needs to continue engaging with industry stakeholders, to understand their perspectives, gain new ideas on how to move forward and, ideally, to work together towards a common goal of a sustainable egg industry built around sound animal care practices.

At HIAW, all participants had an opportunity to share their vision for the future of animal care in the egg industry, their thoughts on the biggest welfare challenges, and how the industry can most effectively address them. Obtaining input from outside voices helps to identify priorities and provides more options to consider, as EFA determines how to move forward towards its vision of success regarding animal welfare in the egg industry:
• Progressively look for solutions to animal welfare challenges;
• Continuously improving;
• Focused on supporting egg farmers to implement meaningful improvements on farm;
• Meeting expectations from society, customers, retailers and other stakeholders.

EFA has compiled key messages and lessons learned from HIAW, which were published in a summary report. Some highlights from the report include:
• The collaborative industry should be working together to build a sustainable egg industry. While a sustainable industry needs to consider animal welfare, other factors are also
considered including the environment, food safety, traceability, consumer choice, and food affordability.
• Transparency is fundamental in building trust with consumers. The egg industry needs to communicate proactively, in two-way dialogue and in a way that is not perceived as defensive.
• There is opportunity to collaborate with other egg industry stakeholders, to educate one another about animal welfare issues and to tell the great stories about how egg farmers care for their hens.
• Animal based outcomes provide an opportunity to measure welfare on farm, and will likely play in important role in animal welfare programs going forward. The egg industry can begin by selecting one animal outcome based measure and working to make improvements over time.

EFA will use the information cultivated at Hatching Ideas on Animal Welfare to help shape strategic plans for 2018 and beyond. Connecting with stakeholders will continue to be an important step as EFA works towards achieving our vision of success for animal welfare in the egg industry.

Learn more: http://www.albertaeggproducers.com/animal-care/