According to new regulations regarding the welfare of domestic fowl, the use of traditional cages in Icelandic egg farming will no longer be permissible as of December 31, 2021. Bændablaðið reports that egg farmers all over the country are in the process of converting their facilities, with the total expected cost of the conversion coming to ISK 3 billion [$23.8 million; €20.2 million].
“To my knowledge, all egg farmers who intend to continue [egg] production are well into converting their facilities into free-range housing and getting rid of their cages,” remarked Stefán Már Símonarson, the head of the Association of Egg Farmers and CEO of organic egg company Nesbú. “I know two producers who are going to stop [farming] at the end of the year because of their age, but then we also have new farms coming in, like Hranastaðir. There are ten egg producers in Iceland today.”
Free-range requirements will necessitate farmers providing considerably larger facilities in order to produce the same number of eggs. This is where the major expense comes in. “Estimated cost of the conversion is around ISK 15,000 [$119; €101] per bird. There are over 200,000 laying hens in the country,” he continued, which is how the ISK 3 billion [$23.8 million; €20.2 million] figure was determined.
Farmers have a couple different options as to what kind of free-range arrangement they want to provide for their birds. “The most common set up is a platform system where the birds can move between levels and where the nests are in the middle,” explained Stefán Már. “Another arrangement is a traditional floor system on one level or with just a part of it that’s been elevated.”