Like Rondeel, Kipster and Demeter, Gijs egg company is another good egg company that decided to stop catching their spent hens in the traditional way (2-3 birds per hand, held upside down by their legs and then stuffed into the transport crates). They agreed enthusiastically to switch to the more humane “ EonA upright method”, which fits better with their welfare-positive image. Seeing that laying hens are only replaced every 1.5 years, tonight was Gijs Eggs first time catching the hens using this new method. Eyes on Animals was invited. We were a team of 3 EonA people, and our aim was to supervise and help out when corrections were necessary.
The owner of Gijs Eggs prepared well for this evening. He had designed and made several useful tools to use in the aviary to make the catching easier and more efficient- such as a board that fit under the nest boxes, to help bring the birds out from difficult to reach places and a metal shelf to place the transport crates on up high, when catching the birds on the top tier of the aviary. He had made a video explaining how to use these tools and sent it to all catchers by whatsapp so that they were all aware of what to do ahead of time. He had also already distributed the EonA manual explaining how to catch the hens using the EonA upright method to everyone. Most of the catchers tonight were acquaintances of his (from the Carnival Association) and not professional chicken catchers nor catchers that had received the full theory and practical training course by Eyes on Animals. Unfortunately the catching evening did not go as well as it could have. Several of the younger men did not take things seriously, and worked in a very rushed and rough way. Sadly, their attitude ruined the general atmosphere and potential for things to be done correctly and calmly. Nevertheless, some of the others were good and did try their best. We also had concerns regarding the design of the transport crates, owned by Van der Meer poultry slaughterhouse. There was no “protection-lip” at the bottom of the crates to protect the toes and nails of the birds from sticking out and risking getting crushed between the crates once stacked up. See photo. We will be in touch with them about design.
We will have a follow-up meeting with Gijs Eggs about how things can go better next time. We will encourage that a proper training be first given to the catchers he uses next time, and that he hires more professionals with previous experience and training. What remains positive is that the company is very open minded and willing.