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Workshop and desk study to appraise technical difficulties associated with organic pullet rearing

Gordon, S (2001) Workshop and desk study to appraise technical difficulties associated with organic pullet rearing. ADAS Consulting Ltd, Gleadthorpe.

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Online at: http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/More.asp?I=OF0192&SCOPE=0&M=PSA&V=EP%3A200

Summary

Background To date, Regulation (EC) 1804/1999 and UKROFS Standards allow conventionally reared pullets up to 18 weeks of age to be brought into systems of organic egg production. Pullets must be reared according to the rules laid down in Regulation (EC) 1804/1999 and according to UKROFS Standards for at least six weeks, before the eggs may be sold as organic eggs. The derogation for pullet rearing has been agreed for a transitional period expiring on 31 December 2003. If pullets are to be reared from day old in an organic system in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1804/1999 and UKROFS Standards this may potentially create a number of technical problems, which may disadvantage UK producers considering organic egg production. A series of workshops and a literature review were commissioned by MAFF to provide possible solutions to these technical problems.
Objectives
1. To organise a workshop involving key members of the egg sector of the poultry industry, representatives of organic sector bodies and of MAFF to consider technical problems that may occur when rearing pullets organically, and to identify possible solutions.
2. To address some of the perceived technical problems by reviewing the available literature on conventional pullet rearing and assessing the extent to which published results can be applied to organic systems.
3. To reconvene workshop members to discuss findings from the literature review, to identify research priorities and to consider mechanisms for technology transfer.
Methodology There were three separate but related stages to the project. Stage one comprised a workshop involving representatives of the egg sector of the poultry industry, of the Soil Association, of ADAS and of MAFF, and attendees were specifically invited to comment on the likely difficulties that might be experienced when attempting to rear pullets in an organic production system. Stage two was a desk study in the form of a literature review. Literature searches of the major international abstracting databases were done using key words related to the technical problems highlighted by workshop one attendees. Stage three was a second workshop where attendees discussed the findings from the literature, identified research priorities and considered mechanisms for technology transfer.
Results The outcome of workshop one was that several likely difficulties associated with rearing pullets in an organic production system were identified and these included; 1) the application of light programmes in pullets receiving natural light when the maximum daily light period is 16 hours; 2) nutrition; 3) housing and pasture management, and; 4) food safety risks.
Implications of findings, future work and policy relevance The implications of the findings are that with current scientific information there will be technical difficulties associated with rearing pullets in an organic system. The most important technical difficulties are to do with photoperiodism, nutrition, pasture management and rotation, and methods of controlling injurious feather pecking. Also a maximum permissible daylength of 16 hours for rearing organic pullets would mean that producers in Northern European countries may be disadvantaged.
The project addressed MAFF’s policy of supporting the development of organic livestock production within the UK. The project has provided information to MAFF and the egg sector of the poultry industry about the key technical problems associated with organic pullet rearing, possible solutions to these problems and, where scientific information is missing, future research needs have been identified.


EPrint Type:Report
Type of Facility:Other
Other Type:n/a
Keywords:pullet rearing, egg production, poultry, nutrition, breeding, ethology, animal welfare, animal health
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Poultry
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication > Technology transfer
Animal husbandry > Production systems
Research affiliation: UK > ADAS
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:6610
Deposited On:10 Mar 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:32
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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