Pilot project on best practices for alternative egg production

Project Details


Main research question/goal

Comparing and evaluating the current egg production systems in different European countries in order to gain insight into better practices regarding non-cage housing of laying hens: this is the aim of the EU pilot project LEGALT. The ultimate goal is that the laying hen industry can switch to an alternative egg production system based on reliable data and practical knowledge. Since the EU ban on battery cage systems in 2012, only two types of indoor housing systems are allowed for laying hens: enriched cages and non-cage systems (including the aviary system). Enriched cages still limit the exercise of highly motivated behavior of the laying hens. A transition to non-cage systems has happened partially, or completely, in some countries. In other EU countries there is less extensive knowledge and expertise on non-cage systems. In terms of animal welfare, the transition to non-cage systems is known to be beneficial for the laying hens. 

Research approach

The research consortium takes a close look at non-cage systems in several European countries and evaluates them thoroughly on multiple indicators. From all data we then distill the best practices for the use of non-cage systems. These best practices are intensively communicated to the European laying hen sector. This is done, among others, through accessible information dissemination events.


This pilot project aims to provide practical support to egg producers and encourage them to voluntarily switch to non-cage systems. The lack of knowledge and expertise regarding non-cage systems, as a reason to stick to the still-allowed cage systems, will be reduced. We expect that the transition to non-cage systems will become easier and that this will increase the welfare of the average European laying hen, and will also improve the social acceptance of consumers towards egg producers. 

Funding provider(s)
EU - Directorate General for Health and Food Safety

External partner(s)
Aarhus University
Asociación Valor Ecológico, CAAE (ECOVALIA)
Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding Polish Academy of Sciences (IGAB PAS)
Instituto Vasco de investigaciones agrarias (NEIKER)
Universiteit Utrecht
Wageningen UR - Economic Research
Wageningen UR - Livestock Research
Effective start/end date21/05/2120/05/23