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Supporting your transition to effective cage-free egg production

Consumer demand and welfare concerns are moving Europe’s egg production toward cage-free housing systems.

Since 2020, cage-free eggs have become a staple across Europe and Australia, and are gaining popularity in the U.S. Cage-free can be broken into three categories, each with its own set of standards: organic, free range and barn. Each housing system has a specific set of criteria, including space per bird, outdoor access, nutrition and enrichment.

European Union cage-free legislation

On June 30, 2021, the European Commission announced that, by the end of 2023, a legislative proposal will be presented to phase out, and ultimately prohibit, the use of cages for several farm animals. Even without a legislative ban, numerous large egg producers, retailers, food service companies and hotel chains are already taking action against cage eggs.

Production challenges

Producing eggs in cage-free systems is associated with some major challenges, namely economic (greater cost of production), financial (investment to build new houses) and technical. The latter includes the more significant impact of increased disease risk, poor gut health, the potential for feather pecking and cannibalism, higher mortality, wet litter, ammonia levels, risk of keel bone fractures, lower average productivity, and greater feed intake.

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Cage-Free Seed Feed Weed

The role of gut health in cage-free egg production

The European Commission estimates that 50% of egg production has already moved to cage-free. For those farmers and integrators now working on their transition plan, it is time to think about new challenges or challenges that may be heightened with this new production system.
Heat stress in poultry: Causes and treatments

Heat stress in poultry: Causes and treatments

Heat stress is an issue caused by rising temperatures in animal production operations. As the animals’ environment begins to heat up, it can impede performance, efficiency and, ultimately, overall production profitability.
Alltech employee holding chicken in field

Cage-free egg production and welfare implications

It is safe to say that the transition from cages to cage-free systems is the most important global trend for the egg sector since the removal of conventional cages. Having started in Europe, the cage-free movement has also gained prominence in the United States (where it is expected that the share of cage-free eggs will increase to about two thirds of the market by 2026) and in many other countries throughout the world.
Cage free chicken

Pecking challenges in cage-free flocks

At all stages of poultry production, you want to provide your birds with an environment that both benefits poultry welfare and health and your production performance. However, striking a balance between the two can prove difficult.

Meet the experts


Photo of Dr. Harriet Walker

Dr. Harriet Walker, Ph.D., BSc (Hons), ANutr

Dr. Harriet Walker is the poultry specialist for for the Alltech® Gut Health platform.

Before taking this role, Harriet worked in the industry as a poultry nutritionist, developing a solid nutritional and technical knowledge base. She has extensive experience in bird nutrition and management over various farm sizes and poultry types..

Harriet completed her Ph.D. at Nottingham Trent University in 2013, evaluating the gut health and performance of broilers when feeding supplements to reduce antibiotic use, elucidating their mode of action. She also studied Animal Science at the University of Nottingham, where she completed her third-year dissertation in poultry nutrition in 2009.


Photo of Dr. Joel Estevinho

Joel Estevinho, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Joel Estevinho serves as the poultry technical manager for Alltech Europe.

Throughout the course of his career, Joel has gained experience managing flocks in furnished and conventional cages and cage-free systems in a variety of farm sizes and house types throughout Europe and South America. His primary area of technical expertise is in the management of layer hens, both in rearing and production.

Joel earned his veterinary medicine diploma from Portugal’s UTAD University in 2005.

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