Designing complex and sustainable agricultural production systems: an integrated and reflexive approach for the case of table egg production in the Netherlands

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Abstract

The poultry sector in the Netherlands is confronted with the EU ban on conventional cages, the public debate on the welfare of hens in furnished cages, the limited perspectives of currently used more welfare-friendly single- or multi-tiered systems (either indoor or outdoor), and with questions about the natural behaviour of animals and the robustness of current production systems. To arrive at new and sustainable husbandry systems for laying hens a new design approach was developed and applied. The work-scheme of the approach consisted of four phases: (1) collecting information and network building, (2) a thorough analysis of problems followed by making strategic choices, (3) developing a structured design, and (4) reporting and communication. The approach incorporated interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder interactive methods, integrating scientific and tacit knowledge. The main results of the study were (1) a Brief of Requirements for the laying hen, the farmer and the citizen/consumer as key players in a sustainable development, and (2) two new attractive and feasible husbandry concepts for future egg production. The approach succeeded in identifying the underlying needs and requirements of actors, bridging the gap between seemingly conflicting requirements and stimulating new initiatives towards sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-138
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • poultry farming
  • innovations
  • animal production
  • egg production
  • fowls
  • production structure
  • agricultural production systems
  • integrated farming systems
  • laying hens
  • poultry production
  • behavioral needs
  • outdoor runs
  • welfare

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