Brazil is to start paying more attention to the welfare of laying hens after the recent visit to Scotland of Lizie Buss, coordinator of the Animal Welfare Commission (CTBEA) of Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.

While CTBEA represented Brazil at the Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) training program, Buss found out more about the non-cage systems used in the European Union after the ban on conventional battery cages in 2012.

After returning to Brazil, she reported that the housing systems allowed in Europe are furnished cages, multilevel sheds and free-range. Furnished cages offer 750 square centimeters per bird, together with perches, nest box, scratching area and claw shorteners as well as feed and water.

“In Europe, the use of battery cages is no longer allowed and beak trimming by the hot-blade method is prohibited in most countries,” Buss said.

In the barn systems, hens are housed on multiple levels without cages, allowing the birds go up and down to access the nests, perches, feeders and drinkers.

“The system is approaching free-range, in which birds are raised in sheds with access to the outdoors to encourage the expression of natural behavior such as dust-bathing and foraging,” she added.

The CTBEA is seeking to explore these alternative housing systems further in Brazil.