IEC Warsaw 2016: Sustainability Gains Ground in Poultry Industry

POLAND – The International Egg Commission (IEC) hosted the 2016 Business Conference in Warsaw from 3rd to 5th April. Egg industry players from all over the world discussed hot industry topics, writes Nuria Martínez Herráez, editor at ThePoultrySite/ElSitioAvícola.
calendar icon 11 April 2016
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The IEC Chairman, Ben Dellaert, officially opened the meeting. It addressed different topics affecting the global egg industry and allowed the IEC members to update on issues such as the global situation of avian influenza or new challenges for their sector.

One of the highlights of the first day of this conference was the update on the US dietary guidelines, given by Dr Mitch Kanter (Egg Nutrition Center, US).

For the first time, the 2015 edition of these dietary guidelines did not include a ceiling for daily cholesterol intake (previously limited to 300 mg/day). Eggs, which have traditionally been associated with high cholesterol, would clearly benefit from such a decision.

Sustainability in poultry: a real possibility from feed to manure

The significant role of insects in enhancing food security has been gaining relevance in international forums in recent times.

Tarique Arsiwalla, from Protix (Netherlands) detailed their potential in poultry feeding. For instance, research found that laying hens fed with 20 per cent live larvae in combination with a soy-free diet base (for 45 weeks) had a lower mortality compared to the control group.

Manure management and its disposal could also become an issue for producers, sustainably speaking.

That was a problem found at the end of the twentieth century in Dutch agriculture industry, as there was more manure than arable lands to spread it on.

In a combined talk, Wil van der Heijden, from DEP Cooperative, and Gerd-Jan de Leeuw, from BMC, presented how poultry manure could actually contribute to a greener electricity supply rather than becoming an environmental problem.

Avian health: do not forget about biosecurity and avian influenza

Avian health had an important role in IEC conferences and workshops.

At the end of the Monday session, Dr Alejandro Thiermann, from OIE, highlighted progress made by OFFLU network, a network with over 60 experts in animal health from OIE and FAO in the six continents are working together on influenza surveillance and research. Initially it addressed H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) but it expanded to all H5 and H7 HPAI, H9N2 low pathogenic AI and other LPAI.

On the other hand, Prof Ian Brown (APHA, UK), reviewed biosecurity measures which should be taken into account to prevent virus introduction into poultry premises, such as not having open water near the farms and keeping staff well informed about biosecurity measures in the farm.

Kevin Lovell, from SAPA, gave an update on the work of the newly formed AI IEC Expert Group. The long term aim of this group, established in 2015 Berlin IEC meeting, is “to keep AI out of the commercial egg industry”.

Some of the outputs from this group at their meeting in Warsaw are the initiation of an active surveillance protocol project, the development of a biosecurity framework and the development for a standard position statement on depopulation.

Further discussion on vaccination against avian influenza will take place along with discussion on how to progress on compartmentalisation and regionalisation.

What’s going on in the US: impact from HPAI outbreaks and cage-free movement

Prof Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst (University of Vechta) presented a paper on the economic impacts of the 2015 AI outbreaks in the US.

In the egg industry, Iowa was the state most heavily affected (31.6 million birds, or 66 per cent of the total flock). There was a 37.3 per cent decrease of the table egg laying hen inventory due to the AI outbreak and a 24.5 per cent egg production decrease. In this state alone, the total economic loss was over $1.2 billion, including the value of dead birds, lost processed goods and loss of salaries and taxes.

Chad Gregory, from the United Egg Producers, gave an off-agenda update on the cage-free egg trend in US companies. Currently, only around 13 million layers in the US are housed in cage-free systems.

However, there are already over 100 food companies that have announced they are moving to a cage-free egg supply in the next few years – and the figure increases daily.

This is leading to a need of increasing the current flock cage-free percentage up to 35 per cent and over to be able to cover that supply, and this percentage of the US flock is likely to go up as many companies are joining the cage-free movement.

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