Space requirements proposed for organic EU poultry
Standards based on "natural behavior of animals."
In conformity to the European Union standards, the Accredited Certifiers Association has drafted a guidance document for the National Organic Standards Livestock Committee regarding organic poultry production space requirements.
The certification standards, based on "natural behavior of animals," stipulate access to dust baths or litter, areas of retreat in both houses and outdoor areas, and perches for layers. A minimum of 30% of the area of floor houses must comprise litter and sufficient exit area along the walls of houses to allow outside access.
However, specifications of an indoor floor space of 1 square foot/pullet and 1.8 square feet/laying hen, and outdoor runs of 2 square feet/pullet and 2.7 square feet/per laying hen would restrict the number of houses per farm, preventing existing and proposed in-line and multihouse floor and aviary units from complying with these area requirements.
It would also impact commercial-scale production of organic eggs in the long run. The proposal states birds must not be confined to houses due to threats of an epidemic outbreak and that producers need to identify their plans to shield birds from diseases and predators.