A transformation of Norwegian chicken production
Rema 1000 is one of three supermarket chains that govern the Norwegian retail market, and holds slightly more than 20% of market share. Rema 1000 produces and sells around fifteen million chickens on a yearly basis to Norwegian consumers. A total of 65 million chickens are produced in Norway annually.
In a collaboration which started in 2015, NAPA and Rema 1000 have worked together to improve the welfare in Rema 1000's broiler production. This type of collaboration between an animal welfare organisation and a commercial agent is the first of its kind in Norway.
Norsk Kylling, a chicken production company owned by Rema 1000, produces the majority of chickens sold at Rema 1000 supermarkets. In cooperation with NAPA, Norsk Kylling has transitioned to a healthier breed of chicken and implemented several welfare improvements, such as:
- A healthier and slower growing breed of chicken, Hubbard JA787.
- Environmental enrichment for the chickens, e.g. platforms, cardboard boxes, peat litter, pecking blocks and roughage (so far introduced to about half of the chickens).
- Trials with lower densities in some of the chicken houses.
- Increased competence and awareness of the intrinsic value of animals.
- A better slaughter method (gas anesthesia instead of electricity).
Norsk Kylling is the first conventional chicken producer in Norway to transition to a slower-growing and healthier chicken breed than Ross 308.
During the fall of 2015, NAPA conducted an examination of critical elements for chicken welfare in Norsk Kylling's production chain.NAPA veterinarians and agronomists visited chicken farmers, the hatchery and the slaughterhouse, and assessed the plans and routines of Norsk Kylling against scientific publications and best known practices. NAPA proposed specific improvements and set deadlines.
The most important measures were: A better chicken breed (hybrid), improvements in the chicken houses (e.g. density, housingenvironment, lighting and environmental enrichment), and improvements at slaughter and at the hatchery.
The work intensified in the spring of 2017. Norsk Kylling reorganised and increased their staff by hiring several veterinarians who now work with animal welfare.
Norsk Kylling entered into an extended agreement with NAPA, and received intensive consultation services for six months.
At the moment, around 30% of the chickens at Norsk Kylling are Hubbard. The aim is to switch to 100% Hubbard by the end of 2018.