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Poultry production is a varied, yet highly integrated sector that can broadly be split into two parts, laying (chicken egg production) and broilers (chicken meat production). However, other livestock such as ducks, geese and turkeys also fall under the poultry sector.

Egg Production

In 2019 the UK produced around 11,376,000,000 eggs, 12% of which were produced in Scotland. There was around 6.8million laying chickens in Scotland, in 2018. The majority of eggs produced and sold in Scotland are produced on a contract basis. However, locally sourced eggs from small scale egg producers have become more popular in recent years. Larger scale independent egg producers can sell their eggs via the large egg producers/packers, or through local businesses (e.g. hotels, farmer’s markets).  Market trends have also shifted towards free range egg production and anyone considering investing in an egg production business should ensure that there will be a market for their egg.

Poultry Photo (002)

The table below shows egg production by system as a % of total egg production by year.

Free range10%1%42%52.6%

*Since 2012, as a legal requirement all cage systems must be enriched for laying hens.

Over 90% of eggs in the UK are produced using the British Lion Quality Code of Practice, which ensures that the eggs sold are indeed British and adhere to various UK and EU legislation governing the food safety of eggs, in particular that laying hen flocks are vaccinated against Salmonella and that all eggs are traceable.

In 2018, Scotland’s egg production was valued at over £88million.

Broiler Production

The UK produced 1.64 million tonnes of broiler chicken meat in 2019, a decrease of 2.1% from 2018. In 2018, there was 6.5million broiler chickens in Scotland. The majority of broiler chickens are reared conventionally, with free range and organic production accounting for about 5% of the market. Conventional rearing typically means in light-controlled houses but providing natural daylight through windows (along with other types of environmental enrichment, such as perches and bales of wood shavings/straw) is becoming increasingly popular.

Legislation governing the keeping of conventionally reared broiler chickens (Council Directive 2007/43/EC) stipulates the maximum stocking densities allowed but note that the UK does not permit the highest stocking density of >39-42 kg/m2. Broiler producers are also committed to high production standards and are typically quality assured through Assured Chicken Production.

In 2018, the tonnage of meat produced was valued at over £59million.

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