The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products

The Netherlands is the largest meat exporter in the European Union and in 2020 exported 8.8 billion euros (around $9 billion) worth of pork, beef and poultry, mainly to Germany (beef and veal), Great Britain (poultry) and China (mainly pork).

Vion Food Group has 12 pork production sites. Four of them are in the Netherlands and eight in Germany. The company slaughters 15 million pigs and nearly one million cows per year, more than half of all Dutch pigs and almost 40% of the total pig herd in Germany. Boxtel, a town in the south of the Netherlands, is home to Vion’s largest pig slaughterhouse, shipping 20,000 pigs a day. Vion uses artificial intelligence to detect and report signs of animal cruelty and to minimize animal stress. In many US slaughterhouses, overcrowding and high noise levels can increase animal fear, and animals are frequently killed by electrocution, which many experts say is less humane.

Pigs ready for slaughter are 175 days old and weigh about 265 pounds. Upon arrival by truck from regional farms, 80 pigs are herded onto a platform and into the facility, and a veterinarian checks on sick or injured animals.

The animals are taken to the stunning area, where they are sedated with carbon monoxide. Once the animals are anesthetized, they are suspended by the legs and quickly killed by stabbing.

Blood samples are taken to check the health of the animals before the carcasses are put in a hot bath to remove hair, the rest is burned at high temperature (which also kills bacteria). The pigs are cut in half lengthwise, then chilled from 98.6 degrees to 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

From there, the animals are processed into hams, shoulders and halves, with much of the butchery done by hand. Internal organs are sold in China and for pet food, hams are often sold in Italy and ribs can end up in large chain restaurants in the United States.

Kipster is an egg company that aims to improve animal welfare, fight food waste and produce certified carbon neutral eggs. Farms incorporate natural light and fresh air, and chickens are free from cages to pursue their instincts and animal nature. And unlike the worldwide practice of killing male chicks which are irrelevant in the egg-laying industry, males are kept and bred for meat.

Kipster chickens are fed entirely with food waste from supermarkets and food manufacturers, rather than staple grains. 30% of world cereal production is intended for animal feed but “I prefer to use all the arable land to produce grain for the people,” said managing director Ruud Zanders.

“We need to close the gap between what we do as farmers and what people want”, i.e. more ethically and sustainably produced food, Zanders said.

Kipster was started by four entrepreneurs in 2017 and now has three farms in the Netherlands as well as a farm in North Manchester, Ind., from which Kroger sources all of Kipster’s eggs. Next June, there will be four farms in the United States, each house containing 24,000 birds, and each facility will be open to the public for viewing. animal welfare practices.

The farms have interior gardens with skylights, trees, tree trunks to climb and ground to peck (the birds are not beaked). With zero emissions, the farms energy is generated by solar panels. Zanders uses Dekalb White chickens – a calm and sociable breed. White birds and white eggs have a 5% lower carbon footprint than brown birds and brown eggs (brown birds are a little bigger and eat more, and white birds and eggs reflect the sun more efficiently). Adult male birds and late-productive females are mainly used for meatballs sold in Europe by grocery chain Lidl, which also buys all eggs from Dutch Kipster.

The concept was developed with input from the Dutch Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as Wageningen University and Research to maximize animal welfare and ensure flexibility and l scalability. With an easy-to-assemble modular construction, Zanders said, the Kipster model is repeatable and suitable for urban farming.


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Rozella J. Cook