On-farm hatching in Germany
Marco Steinz (42) and his wife Doreen keep more than 200,000 broilers in Skäßchen in the German federal state of Saxony. In 2017, Marco switched to on-farm hatching, using the X-Treck system of the Vencomatic Group. He made that switch in one go, which is why it was quite exciting.
Marco Steinz (Dutchman) has been working in Germany for nineteen years and you can tell by his slight German accent. Marco: “I started as a branch manager of two dairy farms in Germany but I always had a hunch that one day, I would keep chickens. Also, poultry prices are much stabler than dairy stock prices. And German poultry prices are stabler than those in the Netherlands, because the Dutch market responds much quicker to foreign imports.”
Whereas in the Netherlands, poultry farmers can use various concepts such as Beter Leven Kip or Goed Nest Kip, Marco says that in Germany, Initiative Tierwohl (ITW) is particularly significant. Besides more Beschäftigungsmaterial, ITW mainly focuses on keeping fewer animals in the stables: 35 kilos per m2, while normally, it is 39 kilos (and 42 in the Netherlands). Marco: ”In total, we have divided 208,000 licensed stable units across our five stables; one stable measures 1,750 m2 and four stables measure 1,800 m2. Participating in ITW means we have to keep 21,000 fewer animals in our stables. ITW broilers do pay a bit better.”
The big gain
Initiative Tierwohl aims at a higher level of animal welfare, which is why Marco thinks it fits in nicely with on-farm hatching. “You're no longer transporting recently hatched chicks, and that's the biggest gain forTierwohl. A stress-free start for the chicks is better for the animals and for me, it means that ultimately, these chicks are stronger and hardly suffer from enterococcus. I hope the entire poultry sector will switch to on-farm hatching. As a sector, we can only survive if we take animal welfare into account and make sure the animals are healthy. But it also means the prices we get for our products have to be right.”
At working height
In 2017, Marco started to seriously research on-farm hatching systems and he soon discovered the system of the Vencomatic Group. “For a business with more than 200,000 animals, the X-Treck is ideal because it sits at working height. So no racks on the floor and no looking for unhatched eggs on the stable floor.” Marco consulted a lot of poultry farmers in the Netherlands who already used X-Treck. “I saw photos and information about X-Treck on Twitter, which is how I got in contact with farmers who were already using...
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