VIV Europe Hotline, 23 April: Few exhibitors at the 2010 VIV Europe trade fair failed to reach the three-day event in the Netherlands, despite the travel problems of the week. So there was still a full range of products on view for poultry production and processing, notes Egg Industry editor Dr Simon Shane in summarising his impressions on the final day.

One notable point for the visitor from outside Europe was the contrast with an American show, such as IPE Atlanta, concerning the displays of the pharmaceutical companies. Whereas in Atlanta they would spotlight antibiotic products, nothing at all relating to antibiotics was promoted at VIV Europe. Instead, many prebiotics and probiotics were being exhibited --- called by Dr Shane “a significant indicator of the direction we are going”.

Signals of trends in the chicken sector also caught the eye. Equipment designs for the slaughter/primary processing stage seem relatively well established, says Dr Shane, but the show confirmed the extra steps now being taken to make the systems for further processing of chicken meat even more sophisticated.

Processing plants will become bigger still and more efficient. In Western Europe, for example, a recent installation has been of twin lines handling 12,000 broilers per hour or the equivalent of one million birds per week. It is highly mechanised for maximum throughput with minimum labour, relying on remote monitoring by camera and computer to check if interruptions have occurred.

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“In addition, I think there is a similar tendency as in the United States to go to a lot higher broiler weights. A bigger bird suits the filleting and deboning processes at the larger processing plants.

“Plant mechanisation and higher capacities have also been indicated by VIV Europe displays for the processing of eggs,” Dr Shane continues.

“It is not a case of the farms becoming larger, but that there are fewer plants to process the output of the same number of producers. These plants, whether for table eggs or for breaking and pasteurising, have enlarged or expanded with much more mechanisation to handle the eggs from many millions of laying hens."