We are delighted to announce that the largest Italian egg producer - and leading egg producer in Europe - Eurovo Group has committed to phase out cages for laying hens on its Italian-owned farms by 2022.
The Group has also confirmed it will phase out the use of combination or ‘combi’ systems and introduce key features such as ramps between tiers, by 2025, which will further improve the freedom of movement for the hens in its multi-tier aviary barn systems.
The cage-free wave has continued to spread across Italy with an ever-increasing number of companies making cage free commitments. In the past four years, the ratio between caged and cage-free hens has reversed, moving from 60% caged and 40% cage free to 40% caged and 60% cage free.
Beyond committing to phase out cages in its Italian-owned farms by 2022, Eurovo Group has also committed to remove any structural elements that restrict or confine the birds – such as partitions within the tiers, and doors – across all their Italian-owned multi-tier sheds by 2025.
The full conversion will take place gradually, modifying 25% of their multi-tier sheds by the end of 2021, a further 25% by the end of 2022, and the remaining 50% by 2025.
Silvia Lionello, Head of Organisational and General Services Department at Eurovo Group, commented: “At Eurovo we prefer to implement welfare rather than to talk about it, therefore we plan and make the changes necessary to continuously increase the freedom and welfare on our farms, in respect of our hens, clients and consumers.”
Maximising welfare potential
In 2020, Eurovo launched a project to improve their multi-tier and combination systems in collaboration with the University of Bologna and CIWF. Their aim was to maximise welfare potential by trialling different structural changes to help improve bird movement throughout the shed.
As a result of this project, Eurovo decided to publish a cage-free and combi-free commitment for its Italian-owned farms, and the farms on contract to the Group will be assessing their own specific programmes for cage-free egg production.
Elisa Bianco, Senior Food Business Manager in Italy, said: "Eurovo's commitment to move away from cages and combination systems represents a milestone in improving the welfare of hens in Italy. We would like to congratulate them for making this important decision and are extremely encouraged by their roadmap for change and their willingness to collaborate on such an important issue.
“Their commitment provides an excellent example for others to follow and one which we hope will drive further change across the egg industry in Italy and the rest of Europe too.”
Eurovo supports ECI to ‘End the Cage Age’
As an additional indication of Eurovo’s level of commitment to improve welfare standards, the Group has also shown its support for a progressive phase out in the use of cages in a letter to Copa-Cogeca, its representation body at a European level.
The letter asks Copa-Cogeca to support Compassion’s ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens Initiative, calling on the EU to end the use of all cages in animal farming.