Press release Pilot project to support the transition to cage-free housing systems for laying hens in Europe

26/07/2021 Source: Best Practice Hens

On May 21, 2021, the project "Best practices for alternative egg production systems" ("Best Practice Hens") was launched. This project aims to gather knowledge around the 'best practices' related to keeping poults and laying hens in cage-free housing systems (free-range, free-range and organic) and to support the transition towards cage-free housing of laying hens in Europe.

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'Best Practice Hens' is a project funded by the European Union with a duration of 2 years, ending in May 2023. The consortium, selected through a Tender procedure, consists of 7 European partners and 2 subcontractors, representing a total of 5 countries: Utrecht University (leader; NL), Wageningen University & Research (NL), Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO, BE), Aarhus University (DK), Neiker (ES), the Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PL) and ECOVALIA (ES). AviVet (NL) and Kipdip (PL) are involved as subcontractors.

In the first year of the project, 'best practices' will be developed for keeping poults and laying hens in cage-free housing systems. To gather information for this, 4 case studies will be developed in countries where a high percentage of hens are already kept in cage-free systems (Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark). Information will also be collected from 4 target countries, which are still in transition towards cage-free housing (Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Poland), so that 'best practices' can be adapted to their local situations. Besides management and housing, special attention will be paid to monitoring animal welfare, economics and other sustainability aspects. The transition to cage-free housing should lead to improvements in animal welfare, farm income and overall sustainability.

In the second year of the project, best practices and a roadmap towards a successful transition will be presented in the 4 target countries (Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Poland) and finally a large, international producers' meeting will be organized in Brussels. During the project specific circumstances in the target countries will be taken into account, which may stimulate or frustrate the transition to cage-free housing.

Stakeholders from the poultry sector, European agricultural organizations and NGOs will be involved in the project from the beginning. They will be represented in the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, in order to get their input for the 'best practice' and to make sure that the advice to be given will be relevant to the practice and will support the transition to cage-free systems. This committee will be composed of the following organizations: EUWEP, COPA-COGECA, Eurogroup for Animals, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, EFSA, Lohmann Tierzucht, ERPA and Vencomatic.

With 'Best Practice Hens', the project team aims to contribute to a sustainable transition towards cage-free housing of laying hens in Europe.

For more information, please visit the project website and the social media channels: Facebook, Twitter en LinkedIn.

Contact information:

Project leader: Prof. T. Bas Rodenburg (

Project communications: Angela Morell Pérez (

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Karolien Langendries

Poultry Information Center Coordinator

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