‘After all, meat doesn’t grow on trees’
As a family business, we are aware of the fact that some people are uncomfortable with the slaughtering and consumption of animals. As a boiling-hen processor, we slaughter ‘spent laying hens’ from the egg industry. By slaughtering the ‘spent laying hen’ and processing it into high-quality boiling-hen products (=meat), the chicken is used optimally. After all, eggs are a necessary ingredient of our daily meals, which means that chickens will always be kept in the Netherlands. Gassing (killing) spent laying hens and discharging them to an incinerator is not a socially accepted alternative.
As a family business, we have set the condition to only slaughter spent laying hens in a ‘human’ or animal-friendly way. This means that we want to do the catching, transporting and slaughtering of the chickens as animal-friendly as possible. For this aim, several instructions have been introduced into our quality system for, among others, our own chauffeurs, the unloaders and the hangers.
All of our permanent employees who come into contact with live animals have been trained and certified by SVO. For this, they followed the ‘Animal welfare at the slaughterhouse’ training course and passed the accompanying exam. Furthermore, a so-called ‘Poultry Welfare Officer’ is present daily at the slaughterhouse, who is responsible for ensuring the welfare of the laying hens. We are proud of being the first Dutch poultry processor to have successfully implemented the strict European legislation with regard to animal welfare in our quality system (EG-1099/2009).
Our own chauffeurs, all in permanent employment, see to it that the chickens are caught and loaded into transport crates in an animal-friendly way. The chauffeurs determine themselves for each ride whether the protections against weather on their lorries are necessary during transport. All chauffeurs have followed a specialised, recognised training course to be allowed to transport the chickens. Since mid-2011, a new hall has been in use for accommodating the chickens that cannot be slaughtered straight away (protect them against extreme weather conditions).
In the slaughterhouse, the piles of transport crates are unstacked automatically, after which our own employees carefully take the chickens out of the crates and hang them onto the slaughter line. An especially developed ‘walking leg presser’ then ensures that the walking legs of the live chicken are shifted to the bottom of the shackle for optimal stunning. After this automatic action, the chickens are immediately stunned, killed and further processed.
Our preference is for chickens that are accommodated in an alternative way. This can be chickens from a poultry shed or free range shed, but also organic chickens. As a result, 98% of our supply consists of chickens that are accommodated in an alternative way.
As a good housefather, W. van der Meer and Sons Ltd. deals in a responsible way with its people, the chickens to be slaughtered, the materials to be used and the environment. As a processor of the residual product of the egg industry, the ‘spent laying hens’, we are fully aware of our responsibility concerning the possible consequences of our company for people, chickens and the environment. As the Van der Meer family, we do not attract attention to being poultry processors, but we are all proud of our company and of the way we can perform our work with a close-knit group of employees.