Feed Strategy - January 2018 - 24
24 ❙ FeedStrategy
POULTRY PRODUCTION'S REAL FEED COSTS
report, 15.8 percent of the U.S. flock now consists of
To meet the demand of buyers' cage-free commitment, in less than a decade, U.S. egg producers must
convert more than half of their production to "cage-free
systems," which allow hens room to stand, sit, turn
around and extend their limbs without touching another
bird or the sides of the cage.
8 antibiotic-free broiler production do's
and don'ts: www.WATTAgNet.com/
According to the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply,
aside from the capital costs incurred by growers, feed costs
will increase as well: "While feed consumption per hen
was similar across all [production] systems ... feed cost per
dozen eggs produced in the aviary was higher because production per hen declined more over the life of the flock."
Aviary systems had per dozen costs 36 percent higher
than conventional caged housing systems; enriched colonies had costs 13 percent higher, the coalition reports.
Cage-free chickens require 15 to 25 percent more
feed to produce the same number of eggs as modern
cage systems, a United Egg Producers report states,
estimating aviaries would requiring an increase of 1.5
million tons feed.
Who picks up the tab?
As these evolving, consumer-driven production
models become the norm, producers and feed
manufacturers will need to step up to meet new
cost, formulation and production demands.
Today, at least with antibiotic reductions, much
of the cost is absorbed by the producer, but as
time goes on, this may no longer be the case. On
the plus side, for example, according to a 2015 Consumer
Reports survey, more than half of U.S. consumers are
willing to pay more for antibiotic-free meat.
Slow-growth broilers have always and continue demand premium prices, but they also appeal to a certain
subsect of the public. The U.S. egg industry, on the
other hand, will continue to struggle as it transitions to
a cage-free model. ■
References available upon request.
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www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ January 2018