The Poultry Podcast Show#14 – The challenge of extensive housing systems for laying hens


Dealing with extensive housing systems for laying hens is no easy task, and changing the production system is just as hard. Lately, we’ve been seeing some movement towards conversion from conventional systems to alternative cage-free systems for laying hens, which has been driven by attempts by the industry to answer new consumer demands and behavior changes. To achieve that goal, we must consider the differences involved in the production lines, and the nutrition, health, and behavior of birds, not to mention the cost of all of that. In this episode, Dr. Darrin Karcher discusses some of the main aspects involved in transitioning systems in the egg production of laying hens. He also talks about creating new education programs for the industry to strengthen poultry production.

What you’ll learn:

  1. Reaching out  to backyard poultry producers
  2. Creating extension programs and the Shell Egg Academy
  3. Differences between conventional and cage-free systems
  4. The influence of light on the behavior
  5. Animal welfare issues on the horizon
  6. Maintaining egg shell quality late in lay

Meet the guest:

Dr. Darrin Karcher has received his B.S. from Ohio State University, his M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. from Purdue University, where he currently occupies the role of Associate Professor and Extension Poultry Specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences. At his current position, he has been charged with developing a strong poultry extension program, is directly engaged with stakeholders across the poultry economies, and uses his applied research program as a platform to deliver research-based Extension programs. His research projects are focused on addressing industry concerns related to meat birds and laying hens, particularly poultry well-being coupled with food safety and quality, as impacted by management practices, physiology, and nutrition. Dr. Karcher received the Poultry Science Association Phibro Extension Award in 2016 and the Purdue Faculty Engagement Scholar Award in 2021 for his outstanding contribution to the poultry industry and Extension collaborations.