Economics of broiler production systems in the Netherlands


In 2017, farmers of conventional, slower growing and biological broiler strains had similar incomes. The so-called ‘middle segment’ systems, the Dutch Retail Broiler (DRB) and the Better Life one star (BLS) system, are subject to higher welfare requirements as compared to the conventional production system. 

Production costs increase when moving from the conventional towards DRB, BLS and organic system, respectively. Revenue prices for broilers produced in alternative systems are also higher as compared to the conventional production system.

Animal welfare gets much attention in the Netherlands. For broiler chickens, especially stocking density and broiler growth rate are being discussed. As a response several alternative broiler production systems have been developed aimed to improve broiler welfare.

In a current study, the Dutch Retail Broiler (DRB) and the Better Life one star system (BLS) were compared to the conventional and organic system. The production costs at farm level increased for DRB, BLS and organic by 20, 44 and 193% respectively, compared to conventional systems. Per kilogram deboned meat the increase was 38, 78 and 402%. This increase is higher as a result of a lower carcass yield and a lower percentage of breast meat for the chickens produced in the alternative concepts.

Greenwell project

The report on the economic aspects of broiler production systems is part of the Greenwell project. Within the Greenwell project a model has been developed to assess the sustainability of broiler production systems with respect to animal welfare, environmental and economic impact. The research is conducted by Wageningen Livestock Research and Wageningen Economic Research.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and four companies in the poultry sector, within the framework of the public-private partnership of Topsector Agri & Food.

In 2020, reports on the animal welfare and environmental impact of broiler production systems in the Netherlands will be published.