Making a difference — the "organic" way of controlling egg producers

Year after year, the demand for organic eggs in Denmark and its neighboring countries has been growing. Therefore, Hedegaard Foods consciously focuses on the production of organic eggs and continually develops new approaches and concepts. Besides new product development, a main focus of the company lies on modifications of controlling producers of organic eggs.

This increase in organic hens and the production of organic eggs requires tightened controls of organic egg producers in order to meet the high quality requirements and the welfare of the hens now and in future. Moreover, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries decided to tighten measures of animal welfare in organic egg production because of less satisfactory results in the past. Therefore, Hedegaard Foods decided to increase its efforts and conducts screening visits on sight.

In cooperation with Danœg, we developed a screening tool which enables us to create a realistic picture of the welfare state of the organic hens. With the help of the screening and concrete action plans in case there are problems on site, the egg producers can positively influence the welfare of their flocks. Hedegaard Foods already screened seven organic egg producers in the last months. The results were satisfactory, only one producer had problems with feather pecking but already started to solve the problem.

Feather pecking is considered one of the main welfare problems in organic hen flocks. It occurs when the hen was fed with bad unfit feed prior to the onset of egg laying. During this stage, the hens are most sensitive to develop welfare problems and unfit feed can stress the hens so much that they begin feather pecking.

If feather pecking or another welfare problem has been detected, an action plan has to be developed for the producer, for example in cooperation with a fowl consultant. The action plan then outlines which actions have to be undertaken in order to solve the problems. Furthermore, it outlines what the producer has to do in order to prevent problems in the future.

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