The commercial poultry sector in Sweden is dominated by broilers and egg production for the domestic market.
Broiler grandparents (Ross and Cobb) are imported from the UK. Approximately 83 million broilers are reared annually, and they are slaughtered at the approximate age of 35 days. Broilers are reared on litter and "all-in-all-out" management is practiced on both flock- and farm level.
A differentiated population density allows a maximum bird density at the end of the growing period of 36 kg or 25 birds per square meter. Information on the Swedish welfare program for broiler production may be obtained from the web page of the Swedish Poultry Meat Association.
The laying hen population of Sweden is currently estimated to include seven million hens. Several laying hen hybrids are imported as grandparents or parents to Sweden. "All-in-all-out" management is practiced on flock level by most farmers. Multi-age farms are common. Pullets are brought to the laying farms at the approximate age of 16 weeks in order to acclimatize before start of lay.
Housing systems for laying hens
Animal welfare concerns has led to a ban of conventional battery cages for laying hens in Sweden.
Hens in furnished/enriched cages are offered a minimum available space of 600 square cm per bird, plus a shared 150 square cm nest and 150 square cm dust bathing area. The most common group size is eight to ten hens (maximum 16 hens).
In traditional single-tiered floor systems, a maximum of 7.5 or 9 hens per square meter usable area are allowed, depending on the bodyweight of the hen (cut-off limit 2.4 kg).
In multi-tiered aviary systems, 20 hens per square meter floor area or seven hens per square meter available area are allowed.
Laying hens in free-range systems and organic production are kept in traditional single-tiered floor systems or multi-tiered aviary systems, but are also allowed to go outdoors.
For organic laying hens, housing, feed and management requirements are minimum level standards set out in KRAV® Standards (KRAV Incorporated Association is the Swedish certification body for organic production). The KRAV® Standards meet the demands of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Basic Standards and the European Union Council regulation on organic production (EC 834/2007).
The stocking density indoors of organic laying hens is maximized to six hens per square meter floor area. Available pasture area for organic hens should be at least four square meters per bird. Maximum flock size in organic egg production is 3.000 birds.
Approximately 12 per cent of the eggs produced in Sweden originate from organic laying hen flocks, 64 per cent from single-tiered and multi-tiered indoor floor systems and 24 per cent from furnished/enriched cages (figures from 2014).
Other poultry species
The Swedish poultry sector also includes turkeys reared for slaughter (452,000 birds were slaughtered in 2013). Breeders (BUT hybrid) are imported as parent birds. Additionally, approximately 16,000 geese, 1,300 ducks and 200 ostriches were slaughtered in Sweden in 2013. Game bird farms rearing pheasants, partridges and mallards for hunting purposes also exist in Sweden.
An unknown number of birds (for example chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, muscovy ducks, guinea fowl and quail) are kept for breeding, showing, small scale egg and meat production and as pets in backyard flocks.
The general health of Swedish poultry is favourable due to geographic isolation, restricted import, vaccination programmes, biosecurity measures, active disease surveillance and eradication programmes. Sweden is declared free from list A poultry diseases of the International Office of Epizootics (OIE).
Newcastle Disease (paramyxovirus type 1) was not diagnosed in Sweden between 1956 and 1995, but since then several outbreaks, the latest in 2014, have occurred in both commercal and backyard poultry. The disease has been successfully controlled. Vaccination against Newcastle disease is currently prohibited in Sweden.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was diagnosed for the first time in poultry Sweden in 2006 on a game bird farm (higly pathogenic H5N1 isolated from a mallard). This virus was also diagnosed in wild birds in the spring of 2006. HPAI has not been diagnosed in Sweden since 2006.