Climatic changes are upon us everywhere in the world. A few days ago, Argentina went through a spell of extremely hot weather, reaching temperatures of more than 45 C (114 F) with high humidity. However, this time, I will not put climate emergency and poultry production on the table for discussion, but rather animal welfare.
During this last hot spell, mortalities up to 20% of the laying hens in the coastal areas were reported, and 5% to 7% in all Argentina. According to our stats, there is a total 48 million hens, so that means that approximately 2.4 to 3.4 million hens died, plus-minus. Reportedly, there were farms that had up to 40% mortality due to heatstroke.
While farms with climate control and state-of-the-art technology slipped through the extremely hot period with relatively few problems, it seems that the most-affected farms were those with old housing technology and with free-range production systems. No words about the latter. Has anything been said about the precarious conditions of those trendy systems? Has anything been said of the "poor" hens housed in climate-controlled housing that did not suffer?
Nature can be mean. That is why hens are being kept within facilities, so they are clean, healthy and protected. Producers are the first ones interested in keeping hens with welfare. Aren’t they?
This is just one clear example that I wish would be taken into account when discussing egg production in cages, of hens that are not free range. But there is one thing for sure: old, outdated systems must go. Welfare — and at the end, profitability — must be taken care of. No doubt.
What do you think?