EU Council Directive 1999/74/EC (laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens) outlaws the conventional laying cage in Europe from 2012. The so-called "enriched cage" is also under attack by welfare lobbies and its existence as an alternative is threatened by the governments of some member states. Before final decisions are taken, however, the Directive is due to be reviewed in 2005.
It is against this background that over 100 scientists, veterinarians, government representatives, lobbyists, egg producers, retailers, and many others from across the World, met over four days in Bristol in July to discuss the current state of knowledge of the welfare background to the various systems of egg production.
This event marked the 27th Poultry Science Symposium organized by a committee of the UK Branch of WPSA under the Chairmanship of Dr Graham Perry, to whom a great debt of gratitude is owed. It followed similar well attended single topic symposia held in the UK in recent years.
As only published information will be considered by the EU Review, it is hoped that the papers of the Symposium will provide valuable evidence to inform those taking these important decisions.
The proceedings of Poultry Science Symposium 27 "Welfare of the Laying Hen" will be published as part of the Poultry Science series at the end of March 2004 by CABI Publishing.