The first Hubbard Premium Forum was an overwhelming success. The meeting centered on premium broiler products drew 106 attendees from 18 countries to Breukelen in the Netherlands. At the end of the forum, Hubbard promised customers that it will be the first of a series to be held in different parts of Europe. Hubbard is a global leader in the market of “Premium Chickens,” which includes organic, Label Rouge, 81-day Free range, 56-day Free Range, Certified, Freedom Food and Chicken of Tomorrow.

The event allowed the company’s main European customers to get to know each other better and to share technical and practical information from the field. The participants learned more about the growing differentiation of the broiler markets in the EU and how to get the best performance and optimal results for this growing segment of the market.

During two morning sessions, several presentations focused on various aspects of the premium products and markets in Europe. The recent developments of differentiated broiler production chains in the Netherlands such as “Beter Leven” and the “Chicken of Tomorrow” were given as a good example of how the industry can react to changing consumer demands. The European and U.S. are changing with the emerging production of Antibiotic Free (ABF) broilers and slower growing chickens. This year ABF broilers represent nearly 25 percent of the total output of broilers.

Frederic Fagnoul, geneticist for the Hubbard Premium product range, gave more insight in the work done at R&D level with a clear focus on robustness, welfare traits, productivity, efficiency and meat quality. Hubbard has been selecting slower growing broiler breeds for nearly 50 years and has adapted its breeding program to changes in consumption patterns and the increased demand for conformation and meat quality. For that, Hubbard has intensified its selection following these latest trends and is finalizing a multi-million Euro investment in its R&D and production center in Courtenay, France.

Marcel Vanlauwe, who has been involved in the selection of the Hubbard Premium products for several decades, summarized the excellent breeder results in the field for the Hubbard JA57, JA87, Redbro M and P6N. Results are gathered from Hubbard’s customers using the Hubbard Flock Recording system, which is available for free for all Hubbard customers. Based on these data, Marcel could proudly show that for all breeder females, the average production of hatching eggs per hen housed is above the Hubbard standard. He stressed that it is very important to develop a good carcass during the first period of rearing. It helps to achieve the ultimate in uniformity, combined with good appetite and egg size and to get peaks and good persistency.

Claude Toudic, Hubbard technical manager EMEA & Brazil, focused on the results of an experimental trial done by ITAVI and INRA on a multi-criteria evaluation of the Hubbard JA757 and JA957 broilers in indoor, winter garden and free range housing systems. He concluded that carcass quality tends to be better when birds have access to a winter garden or a ranging area, and these systems are improving consumers’ image of broiler growing. However, “free range” is a recognized category in the EU regulation, but the “winter garden” as used in the Netherlands is not. This makes the involvement of retailers in the communication to consumers extremely important.