Objectively looking at animal welfare
By 2050, 10 billion people worldwide must be supplied with food. To achieve this, a sustainable food chain needs to be established. However, that's not going to work if the way of thinking of people in the Western world is not changing, Theo Hoen, CEO of Vencomatic Group warns.
What needs to be realized is a more sustainable and more efficient food chain?
"New technologies and innovations are needed to ensure that food is produced in a sustainable way. I am convinced that changes will come, so that will not be the problem. Innovations and improvements have continuously taken place in the entire chain of the poultry sector, and therefore the price of an egg today is the same as twenty-five years ago. I really think it is a stumbling block that new technologies and innovations are not always accepted. That is a recurring theme. I am concerned about the considerations with respect to the use of these techniques in the Western world, particularly in Western Europe. "
How are the decisions established?
"Decisions are often taken on an emotional basis. In the Poultry Industry, I see that the slowly growing varieties are wanted now, because it is assumed that this would benefit animal welfare. Keeping these breeds, however, is at odds with sustainability, and the question is whether it has anything to do with animal welfare. One-sided considerations are made and, moreover, they are not founded on data and science. There is an information gap towards the public. It is therefore important that people are better informed. It would be good if scientific institutes took a leading role in this. If this attitude continues globally, a serious problem will arise. Then it will not be possible to provide the world's population with food by 2050. "
How could this improve?
"We must not only reflect on what people think is good, but we must look more objectively at animal welfare. For this reason, it is important to always weigh up four parameters: animal welfare, sustainability, economy and food quality. This is not always done in the current situation. One parameter is considered more important than the other, resulting in an unbalanced consideration. "
How do you apply this when making your products?
"We always take the four parameters into account when developing our products. This is how we developed Rondeel, an innovative concept for keeping laying hens. In a Rondeel house chickens can always go from the inside out, they can sit on a perch and they have enough space for dustbathing. The house is equipped with a heat exchanger that reuses heat and the manure is well dried so that it is easier to process. For broilers we have developed the X-Treck, which means that they hatch out directly in the house and that a lot of profit can be achieved in the field of animal welfare. This prevents stress that normally is caused by transport to the farmer. Recently we launched the Q-Perch, a system to kill mites. By making electron wires in a perch, we can kill them without using chemicals or medicines. "