Munsterhuis plans for major market expansion with new automated hatchery in Germany

4 April 2023

Munsterhuis plans for major market expansion with new automated hatchery in Germany

Netherlands-based Munsterhuis has invested in a new, automated broiler hatchery just across the German border in nearby Bad Bentheim. Based on Royal Pas Reform integrated hatchery technologies, the new facility has an initial capacity of 500,000 day-old chicks per week.

For this progressive family-owned business, which has an existing hatchery in Saasveld, the development is part of a strategy to expand its operation further into Germany and the rest of Europe.

At Bad Bentheim, Munsterhuis has installed Royal Pas Reform’s SmartSetPro™ setters, candling/transfer equipment, SmartStart™ hatchers and a chick counting system – all controlled and monitored by the SmartCenterPro™ Hatchery Management System.

Logo Munsterhuis

This has fully automated the incubation process and all its controls in the hatchery. Multiple incubation programmes manage incubation for each of the various breeds simultaneously. Each supplier has a unique reference, enabling Munsterhuis to trace every hatching egg and manage the whole chain. Every group of day-old chicks has a so-called chicken passport, which carries this data for full traceability ¬ including information on the breeding company and the age and breed of the parent hen, for example.

The advantage of working with SmartControl™ is that the system closely monitors temperatures, ventilation, CO₂ and moisture in the hatchery and incubators. The hatchery receives notifications if there are deviations and can therefore detect and resolve them at an early stage.

“Munsterhuis has an absolute focus on quality, traceability and the future,” says owner Bert Munsterhuis. “We want to increase our sales of day-old chicks by supplying excellent quality chicks. We built the new hatchery for three reasons: 5xD, spreading the risk and the highest animal welfare standards – which includes early feeding.

“German slaughterhouses ask for 5xD – under which birth, rearing, fattening, slaughter and processing must take place in Germany. This means that breeder, hatchery, feed mill, broiler farmer and slaughterhouse must all be located in Germany. We were unable to meet that requirement from our hatchery in Saasveld, risking the loss of German customers for this reason. Now that we can supply 5xD chicks, we want to acquire new customers.”

About half of the hatching eggs supplied come from German breeders. 60 to 70 percent of the day-old chicks are sold in Germany. A proportion of the hatching eggs are still set in Saasveld for 18 days.

“In addition, we are now spreading risk – by hatching chicks at two locations,” Munsterhuis says. “Imagine that we end up in a restricted area for bird flu. Then we can still deliver chicks from one of our two locations.”

Because early feeding will be mandatory in the Netherlands from September 2024, Munsterhuis has installed Royal Pas Reform’s SmartStart™ hatchers in Bad Bentheim, having also invested in SmartStart™ at Saasveld in recent years.

SmartStart™ helps the hatchery to implement post-hatch feeding as easily and flexibly as possibly. It comprises two key elements – precision feeding and intelligent lighting – that can be applied individually, or together.

When setting up the new hatchery, Munsterhuis also bought the land around the hall and will be able to double or triple the hatchery size. With the ambition to grow further in Germany and Europe, the aim is to expand to 1-to-1.5 million chicks per week there.

Erwin Prinzen, Royal Pas Reform’s Product & Sales Director comments: “Having worked closely with Munsterhuis in The Netherlands over a number of years, we understand how progressive and ambitious the family is. We are delighted to now be helping them with this important next step to expand the company’s operations in Europe.”