Will the cage-free housing of choice be combi systems?
Combination, or convertible, housing offers the maximum stocking density in cage-free housing as well as the ability to be a cage-free and conventional system.
The U.S. egg industry is going cage free as major egg buyers pledge to no longer serve eggs from birds raised in cages. With those pledges maturing soon, and a massive increase in cage-free supply needed, farmers are weighing their options for housing.
There are three prevailing system types – aviaries, combination and floor – with distinct performance and management advantages and disadvantages. Combis promise the maximum stocking density among the three options. The systems, which feature aspects of aviaries and conventional cages, can be we converted from cage free to conventional, serving as a sort of insurance policy in case the clamor over cage-free eggs dies down.
Combis are not truly a cage nor a cage-free system, so they are dogged by questions about their acceptability as a long-term solution. Welfare groups and regulators in the U.S. and Europe already call their status as a cage-free system into doubt over the system’s confinement features.
Only a handful of housing manufacturers sell combi systems. In alphabetical order, here is the information they shared with Egg Industry as part of its cage-free housing survey.
Photo courtesy Farmer Automatic
Farmer Automatic Gmbh & Co. KG Combi II housing system is highly customizable and can be arranged in an open format like an aviary, or closed format like a conventional cage. The system’s feed, water, nest and perch components can be arranged in different configurations, as well. The feed troughs and egg belts are located inside the system in order to maximize available floor space inside the house.
For more information on the system, visit: http://www.farmerautomatic-inc.com/en/layers/combi-ii/
Photo courtesy Tecno
Tecno Poultry Equipment Spa’s Voliera VS224 aviary is designed to work as a combi system as well as a standard aviary. The system can work as a cage-free, conventional cage or temporary confinement system for laying hens and is used by customers in Europe and the United States. It’s part of Tecno’s VS line of aviaries – the VS188 and VS224 are part of the same series – which aim to provide the technical characteristics of a cage-system and allow for freedom of movement for the birds.
For more information on the system, visit: http://www.poultryequipment.com/en-us/products/aviaries/layer-aviary
Valli Space Aviary
Photo courtesy Val-Co/Valli
Valli Spa’s Space Aviary is designed to give farmers the most for their money. The system is fully convertible from enriched cage housing to cage-free aviary housing and is fully compliant with the European Union’s laws on hen housing. The system is available with customizable options for drinkers, feeders and manure management systems. The system comes in two-tiered and three-tiered models with intermediate catwalks for workers.
For more information on the system, visit: http://www.valli-italy.com/products/aviary/