Last night a team from Eyes on Animals was at Sijbenga egg farm in Hooghalen (NL). The Demeter farmer-couple asked us to give a refresher course on the upright-method of catching to the catchers and then to assist with catching and to help supervise. It was great to hear them tell us that since they made the switch a few years ago to upright catching they are very happy and will never go back to the old way of catching hens. This method of grabbing one or max 2 hens at a time and keeping them upright rather than 4-5 per hens per hand hanging upside down shows more respect and reciprocity to the hens and fits better into their philosophy of farming humanely with animals. After a 30 minute “refresher” presentation by Monique from EonA about hen behaviour, physiology and welfare during catching we went into the barn where 2700 hens were caught and loaded. It took 1 hour with roughly 20 people, including those bringing in the empty crates and those bringing the full crates out to be loaded onto the truck. In the end all “spent” laying hens also go for slaughter but we are very pleased that farmers like the Sijbengas are open-minded and enjoy this new, more humane method. Last year all Demeter egg farms collectively made the switch to upright catching, but Sijbengas were one of the first to take it on and go for it voluntarily. Thank you also to the catchers, many of which were very calm and professional with the birds. There were some that were hyper and wanted to be fast, which caused unnecessary stress and actually slowed them down as nervous birds then jump back out of the crates. We have told them that the most effective way to work with animals is to stay cool and be gentle.
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