Hennovation project results

When research meets farming to lift welfare (article in Poultry World, dd 12-6-2018).

The EU-funded Hennovation project was an exercise in bringing egg farmers together with researchers to develop practical ways to improve welfare, as Tony McDougal discovers.

Researchers have partnered with farmers to draw up practical new measures for improving the health and welfare of farmed poultry.
The 2 ½ year EU-funded Hennovation project, which ended this autumn, has been finding ways to introduce practice-led innovation in sustainable animal welfare through the development of innovation networks.

The core of the project was more than 15 so-called “innovation networks”, involving producers and laying-hen processors, established in 5 EU countries – the Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands. They looked at a range of technical challenges including feather loss through injurious pecking, red mites and handling hens at end-of-lay.

Read more at the Poultry World website.

Battle against poultry red mites

The battle against red mites
By Marleen Teuling, Poultry World, Oct. 13, 2017.

Controlling red mite is an emerging issue of great significance to the global egg industry. But it is also an underestimated problem by many poultry producers, who aren’t always aware of the full impact of a red mite infestation. Here’s an insight into the consequences.

Read more on the battle against red mites @ Poultry World.

Update on Poultry Red Mite at International Egg Commission’s conference in Bruges

Challenges and solutions in coping with poultry red mite

Delegates at the International Egg Commission’s conference in Bruges were given an update on the spread of poultry red mite, the ongoing scientific work and solutions to controlling outbreaks.

Read more in Poultry World

From the article:

Poultry red mite (PRM) is widespread across Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Only North America is currently free from mite.

PRM thrives in high temperatures and high humidity and has a life cycle of between 7-17 days.

It led birds to become restless at night, caused skin and feather irritation, could lead to feather pecking and cannibalism and disturbed the egg function at night. In moderate to severe cases, it led to anaemia, weight loss and immune-suppression.

They can survive without a single meal for a year or longer and can tolerate temperatures of up to 45°C and below -25°C.

The total annual cost of poultry med mite infestations in the European egg laying industry is estimated to be €231m and €3.2bn worldwide.

Integrated pest management is the way forward in tackling the mite.

End-user materials from the Hennovation project

Hennovation: “Practice lead innovation supported by science and market-driven actors in the laying hen and other livestock sectors”

The Hennovation project demonstrated the potential of innovation led by producers and industry (on-farm, during transport and at the abattoir) through the establishment of innovation networks that proactively searched for and utilized new ideas to make their business more efficient and sustainable. The networks initially tackle two particular issues of concern in the production chain: injurious pecking and the transport and use of end-of-lay hens. 19 innovation networks were mobilized at different levels of the production chain, local, national and European level in five countries (United Kingdom, Sweden, The Netherlands, Spain and The Czech Republic) These networks were supported by science driven-actors, such as veterinary surgeons, farm advisors and scientific researchers, and market-driven actors, such as those that buy eggs e.g. retailers, packers, food processors, and those certifying egg production e.g. farm assurance companies and certification schemes.

The on-farm networks, 15 in total, focussed on various aspects that are known to have influence on injurious pecking. Injurious pecking is a problem that has many risk factors and the networks tested a variety of innovative ideas. The off-farm networks, four in total, focussed on various aspects that are relevant for catching and transport of End-of-Lay hens.

Alongside product or technical innovation (e.g. new design of trolleys for depopulation, new type of litter material to reduce stress and encourage natural behaviour or the use of alpacas in organic systems to reduce predation), a variety of often less expected and sometimes unintended ‘soft’ innovations also emerged through these networks. These were related to protocol or process (e.g. a new way of monitoring Poultry Red Mite infestation and new relationships between production chain actors, for example the pullet rearers).

Based on the innovative ideas tested by the innovation networks 38 Practice Abstracts and an additional five technical notes were developed by the network facilitators for use in practice by end-users.

TN# Hennovation Technical notes
1 TN01 Monitoring Poultry Red Mite (available in English and Spanish)
2 TN02 A superior method of depopulating end-of-lay hens from enriched (colony) cages
3 TN03 Reducing predation of free ranging hens
4 TN04 Finally you have decided to cook hen!
5 TN05 Novel range cover options within an organic system


PA # Hennovation Practice Abstracts
1 PA 1 Light in the laying hen houses
2 PA 2 Feather scoring as a management tool to reduce injurious feather pecking in flocks with intact beaks.
3 PA 3 Adjustments of stocking density according to outside air temperature during transport of end-of-lay hens.
4 PA 4 Improving the catching and transporting of Laying hens to Slaughter at the End -of-Lay by adding value to hen meat.
5 PA 5 Chick rearing conditions crucial to prevent later feather pecking.
6 PA 6 How to keep laying hens with intact beaks – learning together.
7 PA 7 An easy monitoring method to improve control of Poultry Red Mite in laying hen flocks
8 PA 8 Critical points during catching and transport of end of lay hens
9 PA 9 Selection criteria for laying hen litter
10 PA 10 Litter for laying hens: rape seed straw and fibre hemp straw
11 PA 11 Climate checklist to reduce injurious feather pecking in laying hens
12 PA 12 Measures to suppress poultry red mite populations in henhouses
13  PA 13 Use of a spinosad to prevent red mites
14  PA 14 Unifying the dress code on farms reduces stress in laying hens
15  PA 15 Use of a cost-benefit tool to improve the business performance of egg production enterprises
16  PA 16 Evaluating innovations for on-farm use
17 PA 17 Influence of crate lids on welfare of hens
18 PA 18 Factors affecting dead on arrival (DOA) during hens’ transport
19 PA 19 Influence of handling on injuries during hen transport
20 PA 20 Glossy objects motivate the hens to redirect unwanted feather pecking behaviour.
21 PA 21 Maximise range behaviour and foraging by planting cover crops
22 PA 22 Positive effects of oats in the laying hen diet
23 PA 23 The benefits of providing roughage to laying hens
24 PA 24 Laying hens want to dust bath in peat
25 PA 25 The shade created by the trees around the farm improves the microclimate.
26 PA 26 Mesh on the floor helps newly placed laying hens adjust to aviary systems.
27 PA 27 Reducing the risk of injury when transferring hens at the end of lay from furnished cages to transport lorries
28 PA 28 Evaluating commercial innovations
29 PA 29 Monitoring of poultry red mite using measuring traps: an easy, cheap and effective method.
30 PA 30 Monitoring poultry red mite allows you to anticipate and optimise treatment.
31 PA 31 Sand may be an easier litter material for wet conditions
32 PA 32 Can sand litter maintain better feather cover?
33 PA 33 Monitoring the impact of feed additives to improve the gut-health of laying hens.
34 PA 34 Maximise ranging behaviour by planting trees
35 PA 35 Methods to reduce predation of free ranging hens
36 PA 36 Recommendations for using alpacas as guardians of free range hens
37 PA 37 Comparison of different ways to measure ammonia levels in the laying hen shed
38 PA 38 Risk assessment of each flock at end-of-lay reduces losses

A full version of the Hennovation Practice abstracts (i.e. end-user materials) listed above can be found here.

Tool for Integrated Pest Management of poultry red mite

We’ve updated our description on poultry red mite, and added a checklist in English as well as a more elaborated description of integrated pest management of poultry red mite, intended to reduce the need for chemical treatments through monitoring of the red-mite population. Descriptions are available in Dutch and in English. For more information in Dutch see also here.

Click on the sample checklist below to download a pdf of the whole checklist.

Survey on poultry red mites finds average cost of 0.15€/hen

A Dutch survey on poultry red mite, which has also been conducted throughout Europe, showed the following results:
At around 80% of the laying-hen farms, red mites were seen. 32% of the
participating farms were able to find the red mites in cracks and crevices; a mild to moderate contamination. At 27% of the farms groups or clusters of mites were visible on the housing system, indicating a serious infection. Main treatments used against red mites were silica products and soaps. Most laying-hen farmers saw a decrease in the number of red mites after treatment, although only 14% of the respondents monitored the red-mite population. Treatments are especially applied when (the first) red mites are visible. Hygiene measures against red mites are mainly taken when the house does not contain laying hens. On average, poultry farmers spent € 0.15 / hen / production period of 73 weeks (min-max; € 0.0005 – € 0.67). It is not possible to draw firm conclusions based on this survey because only 44 farmers responded, i.e. 5% of the total number of Dutch layer farms

The report can be found here (in Dutch).

Poultry red mites

Webinar: Red Mite control

Webinar series Hennovation

Webinar 1: Possibilities to control Poultry Red Mites

Hennovation is a project supporting practice led innovation in the laying hen sector. Groups of farmers, the so called networks, addressed various problems related to feather pecking in laying hens and end-of-lay hens. In total 19 networks were active. Four networks focused on Poultry Red Mites.

The live webinar on ‘Possibilities to control Poultry Red Mites’ took place on Thursday 29 June 2017.


-Back ground information on the poultry red mite

Findings of four farmers networks. These four farmers networks all worked on the control of this poultry pest and will share their results.

You can see the webinar video here.