ELANCO and Rosehill hosted 50 delegates who heard from experts on salmonella and the UK egg market at their recent layer conference. 

One of the central take-home messages from the day was highlighted by Shaun Cawthraw, from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who said cases of Salmonella on-farm between 2018 to 2020 had risen by approximately 50% compared to 2013 to 2017, driven by regulated and non-regulated serovars.

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“While this has been mainly driven by a rise in non-regulated serovars in broiler cases,” he explained, “it shows a trend that could be seen in layers in the future, if no action is taken,” he said.

“It’s imperative that egg producers are aware of Salmonella serovar prevalence and their risk levels.

“In commercial layers, S. Newport has been the most common serovar, affecting 18.4% of positive flocks.

“However, S. Infantis is one of the most frequently isolated poultry serovars globally, and it’s an emerging risk in the UK. 

It’s the most clinically significant serovar, as the principal source of human infection – something the layer industry must be vigilant against,” warned Dr Cawthraw.

Egg sector update

Also speaking at the event were Nan-Dirk Mulder, from Rabobank and Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), who updated delegates on the egg industry.

“Following a couple of challenging years, we’re starting to see lower feed prices and higher egg prices, which means that egg production is looking more profitable,” said Mr Mulder.

“Despite this, there’s still a huge variation in margins between producers. 

“Focusing on operational excellence and looking at alternative ways to market and add value to eggs through convenience products is recommended to optimise margins.”

Mr Joret continued with an update on British egg production.

“With 38 million hens, the egg industry has dropped off since June 2021 where we saw a high of 44.7 million hens, following a spell of very low egg prices,” he said.

“But the good news is that we’re seeing a steady uplift now. However, the change to cage-free systems is putting pressure on some producers, costing an average of £25 per bird to make the switch, as this needs to be in place by 2025,” added Mr Joret.