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Two Hundred Thousand Laying Hens Join the European Union

24 September 2013
Big Dutchman

SERBIA & BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA - Ten poultry houses equipped with Big Dutchman's enriched colony system have been constructed in the region.

After the dissolution of former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, only few West Balkan countries have not yet become a member of the European Union (EU). These countries still allow keeping laying hens in cages. However, the intention is to gain EU admittance in the long run. Good examples are the Republic of Serbia, which has already been granted the status of an official candidate for EU membership, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). BiH is also aspiring to membership, but unlike its neighbour, it has not yet advanced as far in the accession process.

The fact that accession is not yet complete does not matter for some poultry keepers – for example, egg producer, AGREKS d.o.o from BiH and its Serbian sister company, Animal Commerce d.o.o. Both are adventurous pioneers and already produce eggs in accordance with EU animal welfare regulations.

They are thus already part of the EU, or at least their poultry houses are. About 200,000 of their laying hens are already housed in enriched colony systems provided by Big Dutchman. These systems feature a completely new management concept and replaced the traditional cages EU-wide in 2012. Amongst other things, they offer more space and are equipped with a nest, scratch area and perches, thus enabling the hens to act out their natural behaviour.


This is how it all began: the two poultry houses at a farm in Donji Zabar are equipped with enrichable colony systems EV625. They house 145,152 layers; combi tunnel ventilation ensures a healthy house climate.

Enriched Colony Systems for 10 Poultry Houses

In 2011, Animal Commerce started the project at their farm in Kruscic with the installation of six layer houses, including egg collection and grading room. They are equipped with Big Dutchman’s fully enriched colony system, Eurovent EV 1500-EU (EV EU), housing a total of 123,000 laying hens.

At the same time, AGREKS started their project in Donji Zabar, BiH, at Karadordevo farm. The four poultry houses, which have already been taken into operation, accommodate about 70,000 layers.

The partnership between AGREKS and Big Dutchman began in 2003. Back then, the German poultry equipment supplier provided poultry systems for a breeder house. Only two years later, Big Dutchman installed a large layer centre in Donji Zabar.

It was a first approach towards egg production under EU conditions. The two layer houses were equipped with enrichable colony systems. This means that, for the time being, they are used as cages but can be converted to a completely enriched colony system in no time. Additional projects, including two which have just been taken into operation, followed in Serbia and BiH.


Big Dutchman has equipped the poultry houses at Kruscic farm with all necessary poultry systems, which allow for an optimal combi tunnel ventilation.

Managing Poultry Systems

All of the brand new poultry houses are equipped with the user-friendly management and control systems, amacs. The highly sophisticated network technology allows egg producers to monitor and control easily all vital processes in the poultry houses, covering, for instance, a considerable range of climate control or feeding functionalities. The job can be carried out no matter from which location, either on the spot, but also via remote access, using the internet, smartphone or tablet computer. Further advantages are the house-customised visualisation of all data in the form of graphs and the transmission of live pictures directly from the house.

Regarding poultry climate control, both AGREKS and Animal Commerce have decided to opt for combi tunnel ventilation. This is a combination of two ventilation systems in one house, which is ideally suited for climates characterised by strong fluctuations in temperature. In case the temperature outside is low, ventilation is carried out in side mode. This makes for comfortable and uniform temperatures throughout the poultry house. In summer, however, the houses are ventilated in tunnel mode so that a high cooling efficiency can be achieved through wind-chill effect. This is done at low energy consumption.


At Karadordevo farm, in turn, four poultry houses have been equipped with Big Dutchman poultry systems.

AGREKS d.o.o, based in Donji Zabar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its sister company, Animal Commerce d.o.o, based in Belgrade, Serbia, are the leading egg producer of the West Balkan countries. The companies cover the complete value chain of feed, layer breeder farms, incubation of day-old chicks as well as rearing of pullets and layers.

Both projects have been supervised by long-time Big Dutchman partner Sasa Duric of Novi Sad, Serbia. Mr Duric accompanied the projects from the planning phase until finally going into operation and is continuing to support AGREKS and Animal Commerce as a service partner for after-sales service.

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