Coussac-Bonneval (France) – Sun, fresh grass and unlimited food in a 16-hectare secure park: the first “retirement home” for laying hens has just welcomed 600 boarders in a French farm, owned by a up who wants to save the chickens from the slaughterhouse by producing eggs otherwise.
” The egg that does not kill the hen “, this is the slogan chosen by the company” Poulehouse “, created early 2017 in Coussac-Bonneval, 40 km south of Limoges (center-west), and already almost at financial equilibrium. ” It is by becoming a vegetarian that I became interested in eggs, a source of animal protein a priori (obtained) without suffering. And I discovered that the vast majority of hens, including those from organic farms, are sent to the slaughterhouse at only 18 months “while they can live much longer,” says Fabien Sauleman, co-founder of Poulehouse. ” Especially since a hen can lay all her life, she is just a little less productive “when she gets older,” says her partner Elodie Pellegrain, an agricultural engineer by profession. Hence the idea of a ” retirement system “for chickens. ” Our bet was that people were willing to pay more for an ethical egg, with full traceability, but also so that farmers are paid the right price and hens are not killed “, explains Sébastien Neusch, in charge of digital and marketing at Poulehouse, where he is co-founder and managing director. Deal: ” The first tests on Facebook were so conclusive that a community was born around the project even before the company was created! “, he says. The concept is similar to the French pay-as-you-go system: active hens work to pay for the retirement of their elders. – Chickens with golden eggs – Young hens, at the height of their egg-laying potential, are at work with organic breeders, partners of the brand. The latter, four in number at the moment, undertake to practice no mutilation of the beak, to market the eggs under the brand ” Poulehouse “and put the layers back to the start-up rather than to the slaughterhouse when they reach 18 months. In exchange, the farmers collect a few cents more for each egg. Sold for one euro each – about twice as expensive as a classic organic egg – the Poulehouse eggs not only finance the comfort of the retired chickens in Coussac-Bonneval but also the whole research and development part of the company. ” In the long term, our project is that organic farmers settle on the same model and keep the old chickens at home, because we will have proved that at the price of the ethical egg that we propose the business model works “, summarizes Fabien. According to this Parisian entrepreneur, ” some 20 farmers want to even join the network, but for the moment we do not have enough outlets. ” Since the marketing of the first boxes in September 2017, 400,000 eggs have already been sold in 300 outlets, organic supermarkets (Biocoop, Naturalia) or conventional (Franprix, Monoprix and soon Carrefour). This fall, Poulehouse plans to welcome an additional 3,000 gallinaceous birds in its farm in Coussac-Bonneval, which can accommodate up to 18,000 residents in total. And for future retirees, a fundraising is underway on a crowdfunding platform dedicated to innovative investments (myoptions.co) to raise 100,000 euros and build new sheds. In addition to raising public awareness of the fate of chickens, the farm limousine will also be dedicated to research, with the aim of gathering data on mortality, productivity and health status of hens beyond the 18 fateful months. A task devolved to the team’s scientist, Elodie Pellegrain, in coordination with a homeopathic veterinarian.