Rondeel is an egg- farm in Barneveld with 30,000 hens. The managers have tried to provide an environment that, as much as possible, permits the hens to express their natural behaviours such as foraging, dust-bathing, nest-building and perching. The hen's beaks are not trimmed and they have free access to the outdoors and the warm indoors. The farm is in the shape of a circle where the hens live in groups of 6000 each around the focus point- the barn.
It was a conscious choice of the owners to have 30,000 hens, as it is a figure that permits them to be economically competitive. The goal is to build several of these types of free-range but economically viable egg-producing farms in the Netherlands. The second Rondeel farm is being built now in Brabant.
At 14 months of age the hens are sent for slaughter, but Rondeel is hoping to push back the slaughter age so that the hens can live longer. They are unfortunately slaughtered in "normal" slaughterhouses where they are hung up and electrically stunned. We were disappointed however that there wasn't any fire prevention or fire codes in place. Considering that 132,000 chickens died just this year in barn fires, Rondeel and all other places with large number of sentient-beings inside need to take measures to prevent such a disaster.
Rondeel packages its own eggs, in environmentally-friendly coconut packaging and are sold exclusivley at Albert Hijn supermarkets. The farm is completely transparent, with public visitors welcome to visit on any day except Sunday.
We would like to thank Rondeel, and in particular Ruud, for the tour and presentation he gave us on this day. Eyes on Animals will certainly recommend that people wishing to eat eggs purchase them from Rondeel farms.
Laws are in place to ensure that animals have a minimum amount of space, lighting, feed and fresh water. But farm animals are more complicated than this; they have strong desires to express their natural behaviours and range of emotions. These are largely restricted on most industrial farms, leading to mental suffering such as boredom and extreme frustration. Another welfare issue common on farms is the animal health and the quality of the environment. The barn should be clean from parasites and drafts, and sick and injured animals need to be separated and treated in a timely manner. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Eyes on Animals regularly visits farms, both large and small, free-range and industrial, to check on the general condition of the animals and the housing environment. We compare what we observe with the requirements set in the national and EU regulations. We discuss with farmers if improvements are needed and how they can be achieved.