VIV Europe Hotline, 21 April:  Day one of the 2010 EGGS! program at VIV Europe was a technical success although attendance was limited by disruption in continental and international air-travel.

The program, arranged by VIV and sponsored by WATT, involved presentations by leading international experts in the areas of economics, egg-quality and genetics. The significant common theme was the interrelationship of nutrition, economics, disease and management in achieving optimal efficiency.

Albert Vernooij, of Rabobank and Peter van Horne of the LEI Institute considered the economic future of the egg industry from their respective commercial and academic perspectives.

Their key messages included: the increasing need for balanced protein in diets to feed a burgeoning world population; that future rates of expansion will be higher in Asia and Latin America compared to Europe and North America; international trade in shell eggs will be confined to specific regions and the factors influencing expansion will include considerations such as sustainability, welfare, food safety and production costs.

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Dr Jac de Wit of the Animal Health Service Deventer, reviewed the causes of shell abnormalities. These included nutrient deficiencies, exposure to disease, mismanagement and improper housing. As many factors interact synergistically to exacerbate shell abnormalities and fecal staining, the need for appropriate and diligent diagnosis using advanced technology was stressed in relation to determining the causes of problems and their resolution.

 Frans van Sambeek, of the ISA Division of Hendrix Genetics, provided an update on genetic selection for improved performance. He noted that recent emphasis reflected industry trends to longer production cycles.

He continued that geneticists are adjusting their criteria for selection to include persistence in egg production, livability, behavior in both confined and non-confined housing and egg quality. The selection of lines is now based on the application of DNA markers to identify birds with a genetic predisposition for desired traits. Genomic selection will expedite progress in attaining enhanced performance from egg-production flocks at the commercial level.

The Power Point slides presented by the speakers will be posted with the permission of the participants on the VIV Web site