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10/01/2021 | Campus-Meldung

Joint project researches laying hens in mobile houses: Opportunity or risk?

Mobile chicken housing is spreading rapidly in both organic and conventional egg production. The joint project "MobiWohl" at the University of Kassel, the University of Göttingen and the Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft is therefore investigating this form of husbandry under the aspects of animal welfare, market and public acceptance.

Image: FNT, University of Kassel.
Mobile chicken coop.

In the middle of the year (2021), the project on the opportunities and risks of egg production in mobile barns, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), has started. Over the next three years, a team from the Department of Farm Animal Ethology and Animal Husbandry at the University of Kassel, led by Prof. Dr. Ute Knierim, and the State Farm of Hesse, led by Natascha Klinkel, will investigate the animal welfare of laying hens in various mobile houses. At the University of Göttingen, the project is accompanied by the Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products department (Prof. Dr. Achim Spiller and Dr. Gesa Busch). The Göttingen research team is focusing on analyzing potential conflicts between residents and mobile barn operators and developing target group-specific marketing strategies for these eggs.

When moved regularly, the mobile houses have advantages over stationary houses in terms of environmental impact and animal behavior. To what extent they also have a positive effect on animal health, an important aspect of animal welfare, has not yet been proven. Despite various advantages, mobile housing can also pose increased risks to animal welfare, e.g. due to more cramped conditions in the barn, predators or extreme weather. The project will analyze these factors and derive recommendations for agricultural practice. Whether this form of egg production will also establish itself on the market in the long term depends to a large extent on the additional benefits communicated to consumers and on how this form of husbandry can distinguish itself from others.

In addition to the question of egg marketing, the acceptance of mobile houses by the general public is an equally important success factor for farmers. Therefore, possible conflicts during the construction of barns as well as the assessment of residents regarding the environmental and health effects of mobile barns in the local area will be investigated. Finally, suitable marketing and communication strategies will be developed.

Overall, the project aims to provide information and recommendations for action in a future field of laying hen husbandry and thus to focus on a husbandry method that promotes contact between agriculture and society. "The strength of the project lies in the fact that we are taking an interdisciplinary approach," says project coordinator Dr. Daniel Gieseke from the University of Kassel. "In close cooperation with farmers, we want to use the project to improve mobile stall husbandry and contribute to the long-term success of this form of husbandry. Interested mobile stall operators are therefore cordially invited to contact us and join the project."


Contact details:

Dr. Daniel Gieseke and Katrin Dorkewitz
University of Kassel
Department of Farm Animal Ethology and Husbandry
Nordbahnhofstraße 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen
Phone: 05542 981541
E-mail: k.dorkewitz[at]uni-kassel[dot]de  


Dr. Gesa Busch
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development
Department of Marketing for Agricultural Products and Food
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen
Phone: 0551 3926247
Email: gesa.busch[at]agr.uni-goettingen[dot]de


Natascha Klinkel and Nadine Lang
LLH Hessen
Animal Husbandry Advisory Team
Eichhof Agricultural Center
Schlossstraße 1, 36251 Bad Hersfeld
Phone: 06621 9228 14
Email: nadine.lang[at]llh.hessen[dot]de