There is general acceptance that a high proportion of the domestic market, comprising possibly 70 percent of shell eggs, will transition to "cage-fee" housing over the coming ten years. There is uncertainty among producers and customers alike as to what actually constitutes a "cage-free" system.
The Power-Point presentation clearly defines the nomenclature and configuration for alternative systems and reviews their advantages and restrictions. Absent a common standard each producer will have to decide what system will be compatible with existing houses to be converted or for new buildings or complexes. With capital costs ranging from $30 to $40 per hen depending on system or installation selected, investment decisions must relate to the individual circumstances of the producer to optimize return over the functional life of a system.
Technical advances by the major equipment manufacturers will result in improvements and modifications so that the systems available in five or ten years may be different from what is offered in 2016. The reality is that customers have committed to transition to some form of "cage-free" housing with progressive adoption over a ten-year period.
Since there are alternatives to conventional cages and a difference in standards between the two welfare-certifying agencies, producers faced with immediate investment decisions are advised to opt for security in their selection from among alternatives.
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