18.500 chickens. That’s a lot. Like a whole lot. As soon as I move, a dozen of chicken scare away from me. They drift away in all kinds of directions. Some flee inside and others flee outside. It’s dark inside, very dark. I manoeuvre myself through the coop and get outside. My eyes blinking at the bright light. All the chickens are free to go wherever they won’t. “Chickens are prey animals. Therefore they like to take cover. Most of them can be found in the grass or under the fruit trees. Some of them like the pond or the forest.” Marja explains.
Biological chicken farm
Marja and her husband Wim own a biological chicken farm. The difference with “regular” chickens start at the breeding company. From the point of their arrival in the breeding company, the chickens eat biological food only. That means food produced without pesticides and fertiliser. The chickens also have to be able to go outside and have more space in the stables.
At the age of seventeen weeks the chickens arrive at Biohof. Here they also eat biological food and have space to roam. To make sure each chicken has enough space, the chickens are divided in two stables and each stable is divided in a couple of areas. “The chickens can go where they want. At night they are indoors and in the morning the gates open so they can get outside.”
Most chickens lay six eggs a week, mainly in the morning. “When breeding eggs, chickens like to be a bit sheltered. So we put little curtains in front of the nests.”
Want to buy biological?
One of the things that surprised me most is the fact that there is almost no market for biological eggs in the Netherlands. Most eggs get exported to Germany. AND! Although cage farming is illegal in the Netherlands a lot of products still contain eggs and meat from cages chickens.
When strolling through the supermarket next time, have a look at te serial numbers of the eggs. The number on the eggs of biological chicken starts with a 0. The 1 stands for free-range eggs, the 2 for indoor housing and the 3 is for cage farming.