Animal welfare – When every chicken count
Good animal welfare is at the heart of our business and operations. Our starting point is that each chicken must be taken good care of, reared in a healthy environment and kept comfortable: from hatching through to slaughter.
Leading position on Animal welfare
We are committed to keeping our promise on good animal welfare, to the chickens and to all our stakeholders. The ambition is to position Scandi Standard as an industry leader, contributing to better animal welfare for the whole sector.
Our approach to animal welfare is based on the Nordic heritage of animal husbandry, and animal protection legislation, which are amongst the strictest in the world. We have a set groupwide policy for animal welfare, that clearly defines the standards and requirements to all areas of our organisation and all our suppliers.
The same standards apply to all contract farmers, irrespective of country. As our business continues to grow outside the Nordic, it has become even more important for us to clarify and proactively communicate Scandi Standard’s quality requirements for animal husbandry.
In addition, there are also national sector and/or company-specific requirements in our different countries.
Our position on animal welfare aspects include:
- No genetic engineering
- Defined stocking density
- No antibiotics
- No growth hormones
- No routine mutilation/no beak trimming
- Responsible transport manner and time/distances
- Pre-slaughter stunning
Governance – responsibilities and organisation
The Group and Local Company Management is responsible for ensuring that the Animal Welfare Policy is implemented and followed. Group Live Operations Director is responsible for the policy and to lead the work with improving animal welfare across the markets. On the local business unit level, this responsibility lies with the local Live Operations Manager. In the processing plants a named Animal Welfare Coordinator is responsible for reporting the outcomes.
Different breeds of chicken are used for different production systems. Our starting point is to make sure that they all have good health and are grown and treated in a responsible manner.
Comparison of broiler breed characteristics used at Scandi Standard
|Conventional broilers||Slow-growing broilers||Organic broilers|
|Worldwide share of production (*||95%||5%||n/a|
|Scandi share of production||85%||15%||cs 1%|
|Breeds used in Scandi||Ross 308||Ranger Gold, Hubbard XX||Ranger Gold, Hubbard XX|
|Feather color||white||Mostly brownish/brown||Brown|
|Use of resources||Lowest||Medium||Highest|
|– Feed, kg||base||ca 30% more||cs 50-60% more|
|– Water, l||base||ca 30% more||ca 50-60% more|
|– Electricity, kWh||base||15-30% more||ca 10-40% more|
|Animal welfare (**||Good, but require good feed and farmer skills||Good, but depending on feed and farmer skills||Good, but depending on feed and farmer skills|
|Antibiotics need (***||None||None||None|
(** Animal welfare can be measured by e.g. the conditions the bird live in (feet health), need for antibiotics usage, and mortality.
The conventional broiler is growing faster than the “slower growing” broiler – thereby it requires high quality of caretaking.
When this is supplied, good animal welfare and optimum results are achieved.
The slower growing broiler can tolerate a wider variability of living conditions, feed quality etc. to achieve good animal welfare.
(*** Antibiotics usage does not depend on breed – but rather on the quality of the day-old chicks, the feed, and the farmer skills.
We work solely with carefully selected farmers on long-term agreements in each country to grow our chickens. All farmers have to commit to comply with all the relevant animal welfare legislations as well as the Scandi Standard animal welfare policy. We maintain a continuous dialogue with the farmers and provide support and advisory services. Our farmer advisors conduct regular visits and follow up on their contact with every farmer.
Good housing environment
Providing chickens with the right housing environment as well as the right feed is essential to utilise nutrition and energy in an optimal way. It is essential, for example, that the birds are able to wander freely and have sufficient space. Stocking density varies depending on the national legislation in the various countries we operate in, and on different types of growing systems. The average density upheld by Scandi Standard is 37,5 kg per square meter. No broilers are grown in cages. Based on our results, there is no evidence that the stocking density within the practised reasonable range, according to the local legislations (36-42 kg/m2), has any impact on the animal welfare outcomes such as foot pad dermatitis, mortality or antibiotics usage.
We have also established documented specifications and guidelines for heating, lighting, ventilation, bedding and equipment for feed and water. The housing environment and the health of the chicken flocks are monitored daily and controlled using a number of key indicators.
A bedding made from wood shavings, dried peat or straw, is spread on the floor before the chicks are hatched. As this is where chickens spend their time, the litter material’s condition impacts their health and welfare. This is why their feet health is a vital indicator. It is important that the litter is kept dry as it contributes to the comfort and well-being of the chickens (like dust bathing), their immune systems and minimises the risks of diseases spreading.
The quality of the litter is checked based on the health of the chickens’ feet. Their feet pads are monitored and registered to each chicken house at the slaughterhouse. Good feet health also increases the proportion of high-quality chicken feet that can be exported as food to countries where they are considered a delicacy. This increases revenue which is of course more profitable than using them merely as animal feed.
No growth hormones, antibiotics or routine trimming
We are strict about not allowing growth hormones to be used. Plus, antibiotics or any other kind of medicine are only acceptable if they are given to sick animals, when approved by in-house veterinarians or veterinarians contracted by us. No mutilation or beak trimming is allowed.
Ethics in transport and slaughter
To us, animal ethics is a high priority in the transport and slaughter of chickens. Transport distances and arrival times are planned and registered to ensure that each chicken is transported within set time frames, and that they are always slaughtered on the same day that they are transported. We ensure that maximum transport times are well below the legislation limit of 8 hours. In countries that have cold climate conditions (Sweden, Finland, Norway), transport from the farmers to our plants is carried out in specially adapted vehicles that have temperature-controlled ventilation.
All chickens are examined on arrival and stunned before slaughter. It is also mandatory that an official veterinarian oversees the health status of the arriving chicken transports.
Animal welfare training
All our contract farmers receive training sessions in animal welfare, through national/sector and/or Scandi Standard farmer advisors. In our own operations, there is a defined role for Animal Welfare responsibility at each slaughterhouse. All employees handling chickens get animal welfare information and instructions as part of their introduction to Scandi Standard.
Our performance – Targets & KPIs
|Antibiotics (% treated flocks)||<1||0,1 (Nordics)|
11 (All countries)
|Feet health (foot points)||<10||4 (Nordics)|
19 (All countries)
|Feed conversion rate||1,52||1,52|
|Stocking density (kg/m2)||–||37,5|
|Transportation time||Average 1,5 hours, well below legislated max 8 hours|
|Death on arrival, DOA (%)||0,18||0,12|
|Mortality rate during growing (%)||3-3.5||3,6 (achieved with very low use of antibiotics)|
|Pre-slaughter stunning (%)||100||99,98|
Focus on continuous improvement – key areas
We are proud of our approach and our continuous efforts for animal welfare, and at the same time humble enough to acknowledge that there is always room for improvements. Our approach is to focus on continuous improvements founded in root cause analysis, and working together with our contract farmers and partners in key areas such as the health and conditions for the newly hatched chickens and optimising the conditions in the broiler house through the right technology and skills.