The first Kipster layer farm, located on the Wusterveld in the town of Venray, Netherlands, was officially opened Sept. 15 as the most state-of-the-art layer farm in the world. Hendrix Genetics partnered with the company and will soon be delivering Dekalb White laying hens to be housed at the farm.
Hendrix said many innovations were incorporated into the new farm, including the fact that it is designed around the instincts and needs of the chickens. It features 1,100 solar panels to make the farm energy positive, and fuel emissions are limited to an absolute minimum via energy systems that have not been used in the agricultural sector before. The facility also includes an area for visitors and a center for education and information.
For the layers, the new farm offers a natural wooded environment with plenty of variety, daylight and fresh outdoor air inside. Kipster also designed an indoor garden and a park for the chickens, which features varied planting.
Hendrix said the chickens eat newly developed feed made from surplus foodstuffs from the food industry, which minimizes the environmental impact and does not compete with food for human consumption.
Eggs will be sold directly to Germany-based grocer Lidl, one of the major retailers in Europe. Lidl will also sell the meat of the male chicks. Hendrix said Lidl is the first retailer in the Netherlands to do this.
Kipster is an initiative of four entrepreneurs who combined their expertise in the fields of poultry, sustainability, farming and communication.
After four years of design development, Hendrix said this project is truly unique because it involved numerous parties -- including animal welfare and sustainability organizations -- in the design phase. The end result is a farm concept that is future proof, flexible and scalable.
“Lots of innovations and plain old common sense make Kipster the most state-of-the-art layer farm in the world,” said Ruud Zanders of Kipster. “We have the ambition to conquer the world with this innovative concept.”
Olivier Wegloop of Kipster echoed those sentiments, saying, "We aim to bring poultry farms worldwide to an animal and environmentally friendly level. There is already interest from the U.S., Canada and some European countries."
The production system is only part of the company’s mission, though. Maurits Groen of Kipster said the company aims to produce an affordable egg sustainably and climate positive, with a clear eye on animal welfare as a starting point, plus providing a decent income for the farmer.
“We have succeeded in that aim," Groen added.
Styn Claessens of Kipster said Hendrix Dekalb White is an essential part of the Kipster farm concept. “With the performance of the Dekalb White, it is possible to combine animal welfare and environmentally friendliness in a financially feasible way,” he said, adding that they are a perfect fit.
The first 24,000 laying hens, which were reared and distributed by Belgian distributor Vepymo, will arrive this week. Hendrix’s Dekalb White hens are docile in behavior, making them highly suited to this innovative new system. Furthermore, these hens produce large amounts of eggs with an excellent shell quality. The egg weight is very consistent, with minimal increases by the end of the active laying period.
“We breed for balanced laying hens that produce top-quality eggs, meaning stronger and happier laying hens with a prolonged life. This gives our customers, like Kipster and Lidl, a more sustainable production cycle in total,” said Frans van Sambeek, director of research and development at Hendrix Genetics.