Chickens will no longer be grabbed by their legs, hung upside down and stuffed into transport crates 4 to 5 at a time when they leave the farm to go to the slaughterhouse. Eyes on Animals has introduced the ‘Swedish catching method’ to the Dutch poultry industry. Dutch poultry and egg farm “Rondeel” is the first to switch over.
Organic, free range, barn and caged hens: although their lives are different, they all end up in the same way. As soon as they have to go to the slaughterhouse, they are caught quickly and roughly and stuffed into transport crates. The barns need to be emptied out as soon as possible, and inside are thousands of birds. The chickens are grabbed by the legs and plonked upside down in crates 3 to 5 at a time. Trapped wings, heads, toes and other injuries: the chicken-catcher often has too little time to pay attention to them. Because time is money.
Eyes on Animals insists that it can be done differently. For a number of years they have been giving training courses to chicken catchers and have introduced the Dutch poultry industry to the ‘Swedish catching method’. In this method, chickens are not grabbed by their legs or hung upside down – which is stressful and painful – but they are picked up upright, a maximum of two at a time, and placed upright in a crate. The Swedish catching method has been optimized together with Rondeel and catching team Den Ouden. Catching now takes 1.5 to 2 times longer than the conventional method, but that is surprisingly fast.
Peter Koelewijn van Rondeel: “The Swedish principles fit our philosophy. Namely that we have to adapt our husbandry system to the animal, instead of the other way around. We think that for our company capturing by the Swedish method is feasible and the right thing to do. ”
Last week Eyes on Animals together with the Den Ouden Oirschot catching team – for the first time ever – put the ‘Swedish catching method’ into practice on a large scale at the poultry company Rondeel. The capture and loading time was shorter than expected and noise measurements confirm that chickens suffer less. “Chickens make high, screaming noises when they have fear or pain; that sound goes right through you. During the Swedish catching it was almost completely silent in the barn. The difference with regular catching is so obvious to hear, there is actually no need for noise measurement, ” says Madelaine Looije of Eyes on Animals.
Poultry-catching service company Den Ouden is also positive. Joep van de Waarenburg: “In the beginning we were somewhat skeptical, but it was actually much smoother and faster than expected.”
The Dierenbescherming, the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals (Beter Leven Keurmerk) and the poultry company Kipster have also shown interest in the Swedish catching method. Hopefully more poultry farms will follow and take the responsibility to catch and load chickens in a more humane way.