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Organic egg production is increasing in Europe, where the highest market shares of organic eggs are seen in Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland. In order to produce organic eggs, hens must have access to outdoor pastures with either good quality grass/herbs or supplemental forage material such as fresh hay, silages or vegetables that is fed to egg layers on a daily basis. Requirements for outdoor areas as well as practices regarding access to foraging material vary considerably between countries in Europe. In some countries, e.g., Denmark, feeding forage material is mandatory. Many producers have installed automatic equipment that can spread silage several times per day, often in a veranda area.
Organic poultry producers can obtain poultry feed in different ways. Some farms purchase complete compound feeds or buy a protein concentrate from a local feed manufacturer to mix with cereals grown on their farm. Other producers have the possibility to use home-grown ingredients to a large extent because they grow cereals and some protein sources on their own land. The supply of protein and essential amino acids will be a great challenge for organic egg producers when the transition to 100% organic feed ingredients becomes a reality. Increased use of locally grown resources is required to avoid the import of organic protein feed from non-European countries and to strengthen the sustainability of organic poultry production in Europe.