Among the many offerings of the SPACE trade show, held every year in Rennes, France, are visits to farms. At this year’s event, I took advantage of this second opportunity and visited an egg production farm (last year, I visited a broiler farm).

It is no longer easy to get to visit farms, so it was imperative that I go.

The farm I visited was relevant for having both types of egg production: cage-raised, and free-range. All birds and operations are very well cared for and well done, with a high respect for biosecurity. (By the way, I would love for people in favor of free-range eggs to see that maybe birds are more comfortable in controlled-environment houses and in cages than in the outside, with the heat of that day, practically all the birds were inside the shelter to which they have access. But this is another story.)

One interesting thing about farming systems in France and in countries like Holland is the size of the operations. Unlike many Latin American countries or the United States, poultry farms there are small. By small I mean that, in this case, the farm has about 70,000 birds. We are so used to talk about millions of birds.

They are not integrated, as we understand poultry integration nowadays, although in fact they are because they have close relationships with feed mills, hatcheries and processing and packaging plants. 

What stands out here is that, immersed in the market economy, there is a better distribution of labor – both basic and qualified – as well as wealth. Basically, everyone is their own boss. Everything is interrelated. In addition, when producing their own grains, they use only feed concentrates that can be mixed in the own farm or in the same feed mill with which they have a contract. I suppose this adds to sustainability.

I don’t know if they are more efficient and if this affects the cost to the consumer. Surely, but what does that matter if everyone wins?

What do you think?