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Dutch Manage Birds' Freedom

DUTCH MANAGE BIRDS' FREEDOM
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, August 18, 2012

Across Europe, conventional cage housing for layers was banned effective Jan. 1, and most producers responded by going to colony cage housing that's enriched with nests, perches, scratching areas and other installments that allow birds to better express their natural behaviors.

Other alternatives are permitted, and perhaps the most extreme and innovative option is the Rondeel concept in Holland in which hens live and produce eggs in "free-range houses" that simulate an outdoors environment in an indoors house.

Rondeel houses are challenging for producers as birds have maximum opportunity to move around and access both daytime and nighttime scenarios, noted Patrick Gloudemans, area sales manager for Vencomatic, which builds Rondeels.

A producer "needs to learn to manage the freedom of the birds," he said.

Gloudemans and two colleagues explained the Rondeel concept to a five-person U.S. delegation during a study trip in the Netherlands to provide the Dutch government with feedback on animal welfare initiatives. Feedstuffs was a member of the delegation.

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