VIV Europe Hotline, 22 April : Poultry sector exhibits at the 2010 VIV Europe fair reveal key drivers in European systems for producing chickens and eggs, comments Dr Simon Shane, Editor of Egg Industry, on the third day of the trade show being held at Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The most obvious driver comes from European Union regulations which impose standards for bird welfare and for environmental sustainability. These are reinforced by the demands or needs of the consumer and of the customer in the form of the major retail chains.

Some of the developments on view are upgrades of existing conventional cage and floor housing systems and there are also examples of applications to suit the specific conditions of certain countries or regions, but alongside these the visitor can view a complete range of real innovations.

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“The problem I find is that the companies exhibiting these innovations say they are not in a position to tell us the capital cost of the system and its return on investment,” Dr Shane continues.

“It makes me wonder whether the particular novelty has been developed on the basis of sound economics applicable internationally, or on some specific local requirements supported by artificial circumstances such as a bonus premium offered by a certain retailer for items produced in this way.

“I also observe that some innovations result in relatively small units. In egg production, are the requirements for sustainability served by a unit of this size or by locating a larger unit in a more sustainable area, even if its eggs do need to be transported to the point of sale?”