AN AWARD-WINNING new cage front, developed by a British company, could save the UK egg sector from bankruptcy when new cage regulations come into force on Jan 1 next year.
Changes in the EU Hen Welfare Directive due to be implemented in seven months mean that all laying birds must have a minimum of 550sq cm of cage floor area, explained Philip Dye, managing director of Newquip, one of the UKs largest suppliers of poultry equipment, based in Ripon, North Yorks.
"The new regulations effectively reduce the number of birds per cage from five to four. That 20% reduction would severely disadvantage European producers, leave the UK and EU with a shortage of eggs and vulnerable to imports," said Mr Dye speaking at this weeks Pig & Poultry Fair at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh.
The new cage front invented by Kevin Howes, an engineer with Mr Dyes company, fits 10 different makes of cages and extends the floor area allowing the same number of birds to be retained.
The new device, which costs only 23p/bird, was the overall winner in the Poultry World Innovations Awards 2002 which were presented at this weeks event.
• Moving the Pig & Poultry Fair from an annual to bi-annual event seems to have paid dividends with attendance at this years event looking healthy as this weeks farmers weekly went to press. "We have just over 300 trade stands," said RASE director of exhibitions, David Storrar. Although poultry stands were booked quickest the event had received more support from the pig sector than expected, said Mr Storrar.
DEFRA also invited international visitors to attend the series of seminars at the event, with the objective of increasing exports of British pigmeat and genetics. *
More than 300 trade stands helped to attract visitors.