Aviagen slower-growing breeds get seal of approval from key European welfare schemes

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Europe is experiencing an increase in demand for slower-growing poultry breeds. The momentum of this poultry market sector is likely to follow on an upward trend.

With an aim to offer the global poultry market a diverse range of products suitable for all segments, Aviagen® has been developing the Rowan Range® portfolio for selected niche markets, – including the slower-growing, free range and organic sectors, – for more than a decade. The primary poultry breeder continues to enhance this line of slower-growing and coloured birds alongside its conventional products.

Rowan Range products accepted for use by RSPCA and Better Life welfare schemes

As a significant part of the Rowan Range development, products have been accepted for use under a number of widely recognised and respected European welfare schemes, namely the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)-Assured scheme in the U.K. (“Freedom Foods”) and the Better Life certification scheme (Beter Leven keurmerk) in the Netherlands.

Aviagen has worked closely with the RSPCA for several years, and earlier this year the Ranger Gold™, Ranger Classic™ and more recently also the Rambler Ranger™ were accepted for use under the RSPCA’s UK farm assurance scheme, which is solely focused on farm animal welfare. To gain this status, breeds are evaluated by an independent organisation against the RSPCA’s welfare assessment protocol. RSPCA standards cover every aspect of an animal’s life, including health, diet, environment and care. The Ranger Gold and Rambler Ranger earned acceptance for free range, indoor and organic production, while the Ranger Classic was accepted for indoor production under a collaborative agreement to improve specific traits.

Similarly, the Ranger Gold and the Rambler Ranger were approved in June for use under the Better Life certification scheme for broilers in the Netherlands. This latest achievement means there are now three breeds from Aviagen’s Rowan Range® portfolio that are recognised under the Better Life Star System, as the Rowan Ranger® achieved the same certification in 2012.

The 1, 2 or 3 Star System was developed by the Dutch Animal Welfare Association Dierenbescherming (Animal Protection) to improve the welfare of animals by setting minimum quality standards in the Better Life trademark. As part of the Better Life certification process, the two products underwent a comprehensive performance and welfare assessment, including auditing by Wageningen University and Research Centre.

Since successful completion of the testing, the Ranger Gold and the Rambler Ranger will now be added to the list of approved breeds for broilers alongside the Rowan Ranger.

Dual benefits for Rowan Range customers
The Rowan Range portfolio offers a range of products to suit niche market segments. The Ranger Gold is suitable for a variety of systems, from indoor to organic and free-range production. The breeder produces a feather-sexable broiler with excellent feed efficiency and meat yield, as well as strong health and welfare traits. A good fit for both indoor and alternative production systems, the Ranger Classic also delivers a feather-sexable broiler and offers leading performance for meat production at the same time as delivering excellent health and welfare characteristics.

The Rambler Ranger results in a traditional broiler that can be grown to a higher age with competitive meat yield and exceptional health and fitness. The Rambler Ranger is suitable for organic and free-range production.

Magnus Swalander, General Manager, Aviagen Ltd., says, “We are pleased to have achieved RSPCA Assured and Better Life welfare approval for our Rowan Range products. Aviagen continually invests in research and development with the goal of selecting and promoting poultry traits for optimum bird welfare, while delivering improved economic and environmental sustainability in both conventional and niche segments of the broiler market. These welfare accreditations are a testament to the high priority we place on continuous improvement in the health and performance of our birds.

Aviagen has always promoted genetic line diversity through its breeding programme. This diversity has enabled the company to create a broad product selection that consistently meets ever-advancing market needs and offers consumers a variety of choices.

The Rowan Range is a significant part of ’s extensive portfolio, as it addresses consumer needs in a sector that is enjoying a rising demand across Europe,” adds Rowan Range Business Manager Claudio Ambrogio.

Expanding reach for Rowan Range
The company plans to further its investment in developing the Rowan Range portfolio to meet the expanding needs within the slower-growing and coloured bird market sector. An important part of this ongoing product development will be a continuous collaboration with welfare associations such as the RSPCA and Dierenbescherming. The European market for alternative products is expected to expand for years to come. With a breadth of products tailored to this niche market segment, Aviagen’s Rowan Range portfolio will continue to strengthen customer success in this important emerging market.