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Effects of housing system on the costs of commercial egg production 1 1 Research support provided in part by a grant from the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply (Kansas City, MO).

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This article reports the first publicly available egg production costs compared across 3 hen-housing systems. We collected detailed data from 2 flock cycles from a commercial egg farm operating a conventional barn, an aviary, and an enriched colony system at the same location. The farm employed the same operational and accounting procedures for each housing system. Results provide clear evidence that egg production costs are much higher for the aviary system than the other 2 housing systems. Feed costs per dozen eggs are somewhat higher for the aviary and lower for the enriched house compared with the conventional house. Labor costs are much lower for the conventional house than the other 2, and pullet costs are much higher for the aviary. Energy and miscellaneous costs are a minimal part of total operating costs and do not differ by housing system. Total capital investments per hen-capacity are much higher for the aviary and the enriched house. Capital costs per dozen eggs depend on assumptions about appropriate interest and depreciation rates. Using the same 10% rate for each housing system shows capital costs per dozen for the aviary and the enriched housing system are much higher than capital costs per dozen for the conventional house. The aviary has average operating costs (feed, labor, pullet, energy, and miscellaneous costs that recur for each flock and vary with egg production) about 23% higher and average total costs about 36% higher compared with the conventional house. The enriched housing system has average operating costs only about 4% higher compared with the conventional house, but average total costs are 13% higher than for the conventional house.

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