A plan has been finalized that will transition furnished housing systems in Alberta to the 2017 Code of Practice requirements. The final 2017 Code of Practice was released in March. Since that time, EFA’s Field Coordinators have been collecting information on the furnished systems in Alberta including details on perch, nest and foraging space. We’ve also surveyed farmers with furnished systems, and have been carefully considering the pros and cons of various plans to transition furnished systems to the 2017 Code of Practice requirements.
After careful consideration, EFA has established a formal transition plan for furnished housing systems to adopt the 2017 Code of Practice. EFA has decided to maintain the density requirement of 116.25 in2 for all hens housed in furnished cages. Here are some of the discussion points that led to this decision:
- Furnished housing systems are designed based on a density of 116.25 in2, which is the current density standard for the EU and the UEP.
- Overstocking in furnished systems can contribute to animal welfare issues. Placing at higher densities in furnished systems can result in birds competing for amenities that are in short supply, resulting in aggressive behavior, higher mortality and lower quality egg production.
- The industry is already fighting an uphill battle in promoting furnished housing. Allowing producers to house at a higher density could negatively impact the reputation of furnished systems.
- EFA believes this option is the most fair to all farmers with furnished systems.
- Egg farmers in Alberta currently have the capacity to house all allocated quota, reducing the pressure to house the birds at a higher density. The risk to the reputation of furnished systems does not outweigh the rewards.
- Allowing producers to house at a higher density goes against a motion from the 2014 AGM that furnished housing will be placed at 116.25 in² for white and brown birds.
- Across Canada, other provinces that previously adopted the interim standard and 116.25 square inch density requirements, continue to uphold this policy (no one is moving from 116.25 square inches to 90)
As EFA has been enforcing the interim housing policy since 2013, farmers with furnished housing systems are already placing their birds at 116.25 in2. Placing at this density will help to ease the transition to the additional code requirements.
The transition plan for all furnished housing systems installed before April 1, 2017 is as follows:
- Birds must be housed at a minimum density of 116.25 in2.
- Systems that are not meeting all other April 1, 2017 code requirements have until the earliest of January 1, 2019 or the adoption of the new Animal Care Program to meet requirements. April 1, 2017 requirements are as follows:
- Height Requirements:
- A minimum height of 17.7 inches between floor and ceiling of each level
- Nesting Requirements:
- Each hen must be provided with a minimum of 6.3 in2 of nest space area
- Nest space must be enclosed on at least 3 sides
- Where curtains are used, they must extend close to the floor (without impeding flow of eggs)
- Nest area cannot contain drinkers, feeders or perches
- Space between nest area and useable feed trough must be at least 6 in
- The floor of the nest area must be covered with a surface that promotes nesting and prevents injury
- Perching Requirements
- Each hen must be provided with a minimum of 4.4 inches of useable, elevated perch space.
- Perches must be positioned to minimize fecal fouling of birds, feeders or drinkers below
- Perches must be constructed of materials that are easily cleaned and do not harbor mites
- Perches must be designed to minimize injury to hens that are mounting or dismounting, and nearby hens
- Perches must not extend into nests
- Perches must be at least 0.75in in width/diameter
- Foraging Requirements
- Each hen must be provided with a minimum of 3.8 in2 of a flooring surface for foraging.
- Height Requirements:
Subsequent deadlines for meeting code requirements will need to be met by the effective dates outlined in the Code of Practice (January 1, 2022).
Farmers with furnished housing systems will be receiving letters explaining how EFA plans to implement this policy on their farm. We thank all farmers for their co-operation as we work to implement the requirements in the 2017 Code of Practice.