Whole black and bronze turkeys for Christmas are grown for a minimum of days, but not hung before being eviscerated as in the UK. The controversial capon has special protective status on the grounds that it is a traditional product, part of the national heritage.
The regulations controlling production require that caponisation must occur before nine weeks of age, rearing time is restricted to five months, stocking must be no more than 6. Breeders of capon strains use 46 crosses from old regional breeds to produce males with strong enough legs to carry the birds through to the full days. The poulard — females from capon breeding flocks — have their own rearing code to produce 1.
Marketing of the capon flocks is restricted to the Christmas season and demand has remained strong, despite some controversy surrounding the methods of production — or perhaps even because of it? One of the aims set by the founding fathers of Label Rouge was to add value to free-range chicken by lifting it out of what was threatening to become a commodity market.
The latest results from the two largest poultry meat companies in France — LDC, which majors on Label Rouge, and Doux Poultry, which does not — indicate that this objective has been met. In the two companies achieved very similar turnover of about E1. But while Doux Poultry hit this figure by processing some 1. Until Gilberte and Herve Croc became Label Rouge chicken growers in , Mrs Croc worked in the local pharmacy to bring in enough money to support the mixed family farm near Rennes in Brittany.
Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in France - 2 | The Poultry Site
But now her two bird free-range meat flocks have taken over, helping to make the whole farm viable. Two years ago they paid off all the loans needed to pay for their two rearing houses. She explained how day-old chicks were reared to 81 days and were then collected and processed by Janze, a leading name in Label Rouge.
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Public education is key to high premiums paid for Label Rouge products Westgren, Strong consumer organisations are involved in the development of standards and certification. The results in standards that are responsive to consumer interests, such as a recent ban on the use of genetically modified organisms GMOs. The Label Rouge system is complex but has built good working relationships with producers, consumers and government that position family farmers to be economically sustainable. Label Rouge is farmer-created, consumer-driven and government-supported Paybou, Interest in labelling is growing in the United States, where certified organic is currently one of the best-know labels.
Quality labels like Label Rouge provide information to consumers on product attributes such as taste, health benefits and nutrition, as well as on social issues such as the support of local farms. They can also provide information on ecologically sound production practices and other factors related to sustainability.
The University of Illinois has a project to promote the production and marketing of gourmet chickens in Illinois. In , graduate student Francois Paybou , working under the direction of agricultural economics professor Randall Westgren, carried out technical and economic feasibility studies for adopting a Label Rouge system in Illinois. Paybou determined feasibility to be positive but considered the lack of economical supply of French genetics and air-chill processing plants in the United States to be problematic. Another student, Amy Heady , did a market feasibility to analyse consumer demand.
She found that adoption of a Label Rouge system was still premature and too expensive given the current retail market. Entrepreneur David Wilson started a Label Rouge-type business venture in the early s.
He became interested in Label Rouge by talking to chefs who wanted a premium bird. He imported speciality genetics from France, calling them La Belle Rouge, and contracted with growers in Kentucky and North Carolina who had older chicken houses on their farms.
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He followed Label Rouges requirements for flock size and density; the total range space was usually a couple of acres around the house. During this time, stocking density was reduced and alfalfa was added to the feed. Grow-out was 12 weeks. Birds were shipped to an air-chill processing plant in Kentucky no longer in operation. The meat was sold in Kentucky and North Carolina.
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According to Paybou , the Wilson business failed because investors, rather than a farmer group were in control. They did not fully understand the system — the failure was due to problems with the product or the market. NCAT operates ATTRA, an information service for sustainable agriculture that reaches thousands of farmers, educators and other agricultural professionals every year.
Joyce Foods, located in North Carolina, follows similar standards in raising the slow growing broilers. Although the same genetic and standards are used. Label Rouge is only one of four major labelling programmes in France. All four complement each other well and this helps to reduce confusion between the programmes and the AOC is probably the best known. As mentioned earlier, this programme reserves brand names for a certain region — for example, champagne refers to sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. Such labels are most often used for wines and cheese products but there is a poultry product called 'poulet de Bresse' that can only be raised in the Bresse region.
These birds are known for being finished on milk. For more information, click here. PGI is less strict and refers to the Label Rouge system.
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For the European Union web site on quality labels, click here. The French organic standards for poultry production are based on the European Union requirements but are stricter. Grow-out is along 99 days. The organic market in France is not as well developed as in the United States because of competition from Label Rouge. Organic poultry products cost four times as much as conventional products, whereas Label Rouge products costs only twice as much.
The Certificate of Conformity programme is a quality-control label that is relatively industry-friendly. Medium-growth genetics are used.
Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in France - 2
A fast-growing male is crossed with a slow growing Label Rouge female to obtain a five-pound bird in 56 days. Natural feeding is required but access to the outdoors is not. The programme certifies the process used but does not have taste tests. Label Rouge-type poultry production is an opportunity well suited to the grassroots pastured-poultry movement in the United States, as well as small speciality poultry companies. However, raising slow growing broilers to 12 weeks of age costs more than fast growing broilers to eight weeks. Many grassroot pastured-poultry producers market directly to consumers on the farm or at farmers' markets and their customers may be willing to pay a higher price.
Small poultry companies or networks that serve larger markets or speciality markets may more readily find customers who are willing to pay extra for a pasture-raised gourmet-type bird. Coordinated networks could keep the products at an affordable price by means of fine-tuned production systems and cost efficiencies. In France, consumers from all economic levels buy speciality poultry , not just wealthy consumers. The future development of a certification programme will be important for consumer education, which will in turn help to build demand.
Large companies may find a certification programme similar to the Certificate of Conformity to be a more attractive opportunity than Label Rouge. In Label Rouge-type production, the flock size is limited to about 16, birds on one farm in four small houses and there are fewer flocks a year because of the long grow-out period. Label Rouge is designed for regional rather than national markets. The outdoor production systems used in Label Rouge are more adapted to small diversified family farms than to large companies.
Allan Nation , editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer, and a US visionary in the field of sustainable agriculture, found during his European travels that it can be a marketing advantage to family farmers to produce something that is 'hard to produce'. Speaking with The Poultry Site in early , Rabobank's Justin Sherrard reflected on the global poultry industry in and made some predictions for the current year. Mike Colley answers readers' questions regarding flock management, offering tips and advice for the everyday keeper.
The Label Rouge programme focuses on superior quality and gourmet taste.
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