Egg producers around the globe may be seeing more research conducted on layers housed in modern aviary systems beginning as early as 2016 if the fundraising drive kicked off by North Carolina State University at the International Production and Processing Expo is successful, reported Dr. Kenneth Anderson, professor of poultry science and director of the North Carolina Layer Performance and Management Program. Anderson told the audience at an evening event hosted by North Carolina State University that the University is trying to raise the funds to help keep the Layer Performance and Management test, the last of its kind in the world, up-to-date with all of the ways layers are being housed today.

If the funds are raised, a new building will be added to the Piedmont Research Station, which has served as home for the test since its inauguration in 1958. The test currently has conventional or battery cages, enrichable cages, enriched cages, cage-free floor pens and range huts with attached outdoor pens.  Anderson said that the proposed aviary house would house around 10,000 layers in 36 aviaries, half with outdoor access and half without outdoor access.

The goal for this project is to raise US$3.2 million. The new building cost has been estimated at US$700,000 and the equipment would have a value of US$500,000. The costs of endowing the professorship and the operating budget for the facility have been set at US$1 million each. It was announced at the event that funding for the professorship has been pledged by Braswell family, owners of Braswell Foods, a North Carolina table egg producer. The family has pledged two-thirds of the US$1 million endowment and the state of North Carolina will provide the remainder.

SALMET GmbH & Co. KG, a poultry equipment company headquarter in Germany, has pledged to provide half of the equipment for the proposed new aviary house.

Anderson said that North Carolina State is now looking for another equipment company to donate equipment for the other half of the house and for the layer industry and other interested parties to donate the US$1 million needed to endow the facilities operating costs. Anderson said that if ground is broken for the new facilities by the fall of 2015 that the aviaries could be added to the test started in 2016.

The Piedmont Research facility has the hatchery capacity to hatch the additional chicks required for the expansion, but provision will also need to be made for raising the pullets in systems that prepare them for life in the aviaries as layers.