Colruyt Group's new welfare chicken: better well-being for broiler chickens
Better living conditions for broiler chickens: that is the ambition of OKay and Colruyt Lowest Prices. In cooperation with the breeders, they will step-by-step introduce stricter welfare criteria for the 'standard' broiler chickens in their assortment and the application of the hatching-in-the-stable principle (NestBorn and One2Born method). The first welfare chickens have been in the store since mid-2022.
Stricter well-being criteria
Of course, the poultry breeders we work with always respect legislation. Still, in 2021 Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay were the first Belgian retailers to take the initiative to work with our suppliers on stricter welfare criteria for chickens, based on the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).
Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay are gradually rolling out the stricter criteria to allow their breeders and suppliers to change their production method step by step. Extra bales of straw in the stables are easy to provide. But other elements require an investment and/or some time, such as structural adjustments to the building to allow more daylight.
From 2022, the first chicken products meeting the various criteria based on the Better Chicken Commitment will be in the stores: a slower-growing breed, 40 % more space per chicken, sufficient perches, floor substrates such as straw bales ... You can recognise these products by this 'Step by Step' sticker. By 2026, the transition will be completely finalised.
Hatching chicks in the stable: a first in Belgium
After successful trial projects in 2020 and 2021, we decided to include the NestBorn- and the similar One2Born- method in the specifications for chickens of the Colruyt and OKay butcher's department by 2026. A first in Belgium! The aim is to encourage even more breeders for the approach whereby chicks are born where they grow up. This has some major advantages:
- The chicks are spared the transport from the hatchery to the stable, and the associated transport activities. This translates into less stress.
- They can immediately start eating and drinking according to their natural rhythm, which has a positive effect on their intestinal health.
- This improves their general health considerably, which leads to less mortality and less use of antibiotics (up to 50%, or more).
Exclusive cooperation with 17 Belgian chicken breeders
For the majority of the welfare chickens of Colruyt butcher's department, Colruyt Lowest Prices has been collaborating directly with 17 Belgian chicken breeders, a hatchery, a feed mill, and a slaughterhouse, since October 2022. Those breeders work exclusively for Colruyt Group and respect the stricter welfare criteria as described above. And unique in Belgium: they systematically apply the NestBorn method, meaning the chicks are born in the stable. This is how we work together structurally and in the long term to improve chicken welfare.
Independent monitoring of animal welfare
Based on the new specifications for our welfare chickens, Colruyt Group will have its partners audited by an external, independent organisation. Based on this, we can evaluate the approach for more animal welfare and health. Our objective is to enter into dialogue with all our partners in the chain and to implement the new ambitions and criteria together step-by-step.