“Strong legs, thick plumage”

The major supermarkets in the Netherlands are switching in 2016 to chickens that have had longer to mature. Good news for poultry breeder Pé Roozendaal in Heerhugowaard. He is one of the 70 poultry breeders of Plukon who will be supplying the new variety of chicken to Albert Heijn.

Pé gave an interview about his experiences with slower-growing chickens to the newspapers of the Holland Media Combinatie.

The switch was a radical change for Pé: “We have been working on it for 2 years and I must admit: I enjoy working with the new variety more. It is less crowded in the pens, as I may not house more than 17 chickens per square meter. I recently had visitors who are unfamiliar with this industry. They thought we were raising Free-range Chickens.”

One of the changes involves having more bales of hay and other distractions in the pen. “Originally, Willy and I thought we were just making the consumers happy by doing this. Now we know that it is not just for show. The chickens pull out the straws and fling them around. They are not bored any longer, you see natural behaviour. And they do not grow more than 50g a day. They live in the pen at least 10 days longer.”

Albert Heijn has been working for the past 5 years on increasing the sustainability of its supermarkets. They look at more than just the amount of space that each chicken has to roam in or whether they are bored. Attention is also paid to energy use and packaging materials.

Read the entire article on the website of the Noordhollands Dagblad.