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Finnish Barn and Organic Egg Production Growing

12 March 2013

FINLAND - More and more Finns want their eggs from an organic or barn-type hen houses. Production is responding to demand: in 2012, barn egg production grew by one-fifth and organic egg production by a huge 45 per cent. Finnish eggs are free of Salmonella, and the import conditions of eggs are strict.

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In the latter part of 2012, as much as one-third of Finland’s eggs were produced in barn-type hen houses and four per cent on organic poultry farms. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira inspects all new open barn-type hen houses with more than 350 hens before they are taken into use. Organic farming controls, on the other hand, cover the whole production chain, and every operator’s premises are inspected at least once a year.

Many measurements taken in open barn-type hen houses

On an open or barn-type hen house, the hens can roam freely on the floor, and they must have access to nest boxes, deep litter and perches. No more than nine hens are permitted per square metre. The barn-type hen houses are entered in Evira’s register, so that the eggs and packaging can be marked with the correct production method and traced.

Several measures are necessary for determining the maximum number of hens in a barn-type system: before use, measurements are taken of the floor area used by the hens, floor area covered with deep litter, areas of nest boxes, numbers of watering posts and perches, as well as the length of feeders.

Organic hens must get outside

Organic hens must be able to go outside at least from May to October. Each hen must have four square metres of outdoor exercise space, and indoors six laying hens at the most are allowed per square metre. Organic egg production involves detailed requirements on issues such as feeding, rearing conditions and medication.

Organic controls cover the whole production chain from EU's common production conditions to the common organic logo. All packaged organic produce must carry the EU green leaf logo alongside the country of origin and logo of the organic control authority. This allows the consumer to ensure that the operator is a registered organic producer, which in Finland are controlled by Evira. The premises of every operator registered as a certified organic producer are inspected at least once a year.

This year, production of eggs from outdoor hens has also begun in Finland.

Producer can be traced to the farm

Two-thirds of Finnish eggs are produced in so-called enriched cage systems. Traditional hen cages were removed from use from the beginning of 2012. The enriched cage systems used today are subject to size and other requirements under animal welfare legislation.

In Finland, eggs are stamped with a producer code showing the method of production and permitting the producer to be traced right down to the farm. The production method is also marked on the egg cartons. The control and monitoring of both poultry farms and egg packers is the responsibility of municipal veterinary surgeons.

Import controls protect from Salmonella

Finnish eggs are free of Salmonella because egg production and imports are controlled in accordance with the national Finnish Salmonella Control Programme. Whole eggs cannot be imported into Finland for retail unless the exporting country observes a similar Salmonella control programme. In reality, whole eggs could be imported to Finland only from Sweden and Denmark.

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