In 2022, work was initiated on the Scandi Standard’s Chicken Quality Programme. Ireland was the first market where the programme was launched and it has helped participating growers to quickly raise their quality through customised plans.
During the year, most of the contracted growers were invited to join small discussion groups. This was preceded by a survey to assess all growers based on parameters aimed at ensuring the well-being of chickens and meeting Scandi Standard’s stringent requirements on quality. The results were then compiled into a ranking list that was shared with all the growers, and customised intervention packages were deployed among the growers with the lowest rankings. Fintan Grimes, Manager of Scandi Standard’s Chicken Quality Programme, is pleased with the programme’s reception.
“The meetings we arranged and the discussions that arose between the growers clearly demonstrated the importance to them of these parameters and workable solutions. At Manor Farm, we can only share our own insights into how the quality can be improved, and come up with suggestions for what actions to take. It increases credibility, when lessons learned are shared between those who work with chicken rearing on a daily basis. Our role for these meetings was often to convey why we are doing this, because whenever the rankings are released, many growers are surprised learn that they do not rank as highly as they thought”.
Boosted by customised action plan
One of the farmers who participated is Ivan Dawson, contracted chicken grower for Manor Farm for more than 30 years. When he learned through the survey that one of his two rearing houses was performing worse than the other, he enlisted the help of Manor Farm and Scandi Standard to develop a customised action plan, with the aim of improving the quality.
“It was an eye-opener to realise that one of our houses had major shortcomings and areas for improvement. My reaction was mainly that we can’t continue like this, so I was very quick to turn it around into something positive. Our discussions with Scandi Standard about their view of the value chain and customer requirements increased our understanding and gave us new perspectives on how we should think in order to deliver more value. The actions we took made a big difference and today, both of my houses are operating more efficiently and with better results,” Ivan Dawson explains.
Ivan Dawson’s plan included replacing the house lighting system with a state-of-the-art and sustainable LED system that is better for animals. We also are also in the process of replacing our current direct heating systems with indirect heating, and made structural changes to the building in order to create better growing conditions for the chickens. This work is being conducted systematically according to a set timetable. The existing feeding, drinking and ventilation systems will be continuously monitored going forward.
“The measures are primarily about creating the right conditions for the chicks to feel good and grow properly – from day 1 after hatching, until their delivery to Manor Farm. In the long term, it is also about customers demanding chickens that are uniform in terms of size and quality. Following the implemented measures, the first flock that Ivan delivered to Manor Farm was of much higher quality than before, ultimately resulting in better profitability for Ivan and Manor Farm,” explains Tom Horan, Head of Agriculture at Manor Farm.
Positive results since programme launch
Several farms have shown positive results since the programme was launched. Fintan Grimes explains that the aim of the programme has always been to raise the quality among all growing facilities – not only among those that have underperformed during the survey. He believes that more growers will be inspired to follow suit when they see the great improvements that the quality-improvement programme has brought about elsewhere. The goal is to continuously raise the lowest level.
We are already seeing the results of this strategy. Our most recent follow-up indicated general improvements among growers of both higher and lower rankings. However, with this type of ranking system, someone will always end up at the bottom. Some houses that performed well in the first survey will slip in ranking as others improve – it just means that the programme is working as it should. This way, we can always direct our efforts to the houses where we will see the greatest improvement.
For Manor Farm and Scandi Standard, the positive results are confirmation that the programme is worth further pursuit and should be applied to additional markets. Next in line is Sweden, where the programme will be implemented in 2023 in the same way as for Ireland.