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UK: Hen welfare tops NFU agenda

The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive remained top of the agenda in the United Kingdom when NFU poultry board vice chairman Duncan Priestner made his report to NFU council.

Pressure levied in the wake of the January deadline had brought a reduction in the number of birds in incompliant cages, he said, with Spain subsequently cutting numbers by eight million. However the vice chairman estimated that there were some 40 million hens to go across the EU.

The effects of the legislation will contribute to a 2.5% drop in EU 2012 production, and 20% in Spain, he said.

As a result wholesale rates have increased substantially, ending 18 months of “horrendous” prices. However, Priestner noted that demand has slackened in recent weeks and the free-range sector continued to have a “tough time”, picking up only small gains on the back of the wholesale market.

The vice chairman added that free range sales were suffering from over supply and that managing that, while supporting those in the sector, would be a challenge for the board going forwards. Another area of concern was the year-round turkey market, which had “disappeared”.

Source: NFU Online

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