200,000 laying hens join the European Union
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 tendency 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 has not advanced as far in the accession process.
The not quite completed accession does not matter for some poultry keepers – e.g. the egg producers 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.
Enriched colony systems for ten poultry houses
In 2011, Animal Commerce started the project at their farm in Kruščić 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 Žabar, BiH, at Karađorđevo 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 Žabar, BiH. 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.
Managing poultry equipment
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 easily monitor and control 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 in favour of combi tunnel ventilation. This is a combination of two ventilation systems in one house, which is ideally suited for climates characterized by strong fluctuations in temperature: In case the temperature outside is low, ventilation is carried out in side mode. This makes for cosy, 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.
About the egg producer:
AGREKS d.o.o Donji Žabar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, including their sister company Animal Commerce d.o.o, Belgrade, Serbia, is 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.
About the Big Dutchman International GmbH Representative Office Novi Sad, Serbia
Both projects have been supervised by long-time Big Dutchman partner Saša Ðuric, Novi Sad, Serbia. Mr. Ðuric 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 taking over the after sales service.
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