Label Rouge:                                      Pasture-Based Poultry                                       Production i...
Part I: Production    Label Rouge began 40 years ago as a grassroots movement led by visionary farmers. As poultrybecame m...
Independent third-party certifying organiza-        region. Landes poultry are still known for beingtions ensure that stan...
website is <>. It is available   George Berbille invented the portable                in French only but...
Medium-growing genetics are also of inter-                                                          est for U.S. pastured-...
is half that for Label Rouge production (3%) even                      PROCESSINGduring a much longer grow-out (12 weeks) ...
Part II: Organization                                 The key to the           quality group reviews the market prices—for...
A coordinated supply chain also provides                of the Label Rouge brands are names of Frenchan excellent opportun...
To obtain a label, a filiere submits a cahier de       LABEL ROUGE WORK            IN THE    U.S.charge to the CNLC. This ...
formation, to develop French contacts, and fa-        friendly. Medium-growth genetics are used. Acilitate drafting of pro...
References                                                  5)   Rainbow Breeding Company                                 ...
10) Mike Walters                                14) Heady, Amy. 1999. Market Feasibility for    Walters Hatchery          ...
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Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in France


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Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in France

  1. 1. Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in .rance Livestock Technical Note Abstract: Pasture-raised poultry is increasingly popular in the U.S. American farmers and small companies can benefit from studying the French Label Rouge program. Started as a grassroots movement and now commanding 30% of the French poultry market, it has helped boost incomes for small farmers.By Anne Fanatico and Holly BornNCAT Agriculture Specialists Table of Contents Introduction ............................ 1November 2002 Part I: Production ................... 2 Introduction Part II: Organization ............... 7 References .......................... 11 Pasture-raised poultry is the leading product in a program in Francecalled Label Rouge. This program provides premium products to con-sumers, increases farmer income, and strengthens rural develop-ment. It consists of many regional producer-oriented alliances,called filieres, which produce and market their own branded prod-ucts under a common label. A third-party certification programensures that strict standards are being followed. Other countriesare beginning to take note of the Label Rouge program. In the U.S., a grassroots The Label Rouge program focuses on superior quality and gourmet taste. “pastured poultry” move- ment has been growing since the early 1990s. Poultry raised on pasture are processed on-farm and direct marketed, creating supplemental income on small diversified family farms. See ATTRA’s Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview for a descrip- tion. The French Label Rouge, which also started out as a grassroots program, provides an example of what is possible when farmers, consumers, and organizations work together. The following discussion of Label Rouge is divided into two sections:Access to range is an essential part of Part I: ProductionLabel Rouge production. Part II: Organization Related publications available from ATTRA Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview Range Poultry Housing Organic Livestock Feed Suppliers Legal Issues for Small-Scale Poultry Processors (a Heifer International publication) Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture (a Sustainable Agriculture Network publication)ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information service operated by the National Centerfor Appropriate Technology under a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S.Department of Agriculture. These organizations do not recommend or endorse products, companies,or individuals. ATTRA is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas (P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR72702), with offices in Butte, Montana and Davis, California.
  2. 2. Part I: Production Label Rouge began 40 years ago as a grassroots movement led by visionary farmers. As poultrybecame more industrialized after World War II, demand grew in France for the taste of traditionallyraised farm chickens. Label Rouge performance has been “stunning” and now accounts for 30% ofpoultry sales to the public, in spite of its high price—twice the price of conventional poultry (1). The Label Rouge program focuses on high-quality products, mainly meat, with poultry as theflagship product. It emphasizes quality attributes such as taste and food safety, and free-range pro-duction practices. The average consumer can note a positive difference in taste between Label Rougepoultry and conventional poultry—in fact, regular taste-testing is a certification requirement to provethat these products are “vividly distinguishable” from conventional poultry. The main reason for the superior taste is considered to be the use of slow-growing birds instead ofthe fast-growing birds used in the conventional industry. The slow-growing birds are from specialty“rustic” genetic stock and are harvested close to sexual maturity. The meat is flavorful and firm, butnot tough. STANDARDS Strict and comprehensive standards ensure quality. Below are the standards related to broilerproduction. Table 1: Label Rouge Standards for Broiler Production_____________________________________________________________________________________________Genetics Only certain genetics are allowed—slow-growing breeds suited for outdoor production._____________________________________________________________________________________________Buildings Buildings are a maximum of 4304 sq. ft. No farm can have more than 4 buildings. Buildings must be at least 98 ft. from each other._____________________________________________________________________________________________Maximum density The maximum stocking density is 0.98 sq. ft. per bird. No more than 4400 birds are permit-in building ted in each building. Chickens require 2.2 lbs. of litter each._____________________________________________________________________________________________Access and size All birds have access to the outdoors from 9 a.m. until dusk after 6 weeks of age, and mustof range be outside for at least 42 days of grow-out. Range requirements are 22 sq. ft. per bird. About 2 acres of land are needed per house. 1.2 ft. of pophole exits are required per 100 sq. ft. of building._____________________________________________________________________________________________Feed Feed rations must consist of at least 75% cereal and must be nonmedicated; starter rations can be 50% cereal because of a higher soybean content. Rations cannot contain animal products, growth stimulants, or other additives. Fishmeal is not permitted. Synthetic amino acids are allowed._____________________________________________________________________________________________Other Although routine medications are not allowed, antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian are. Coccidiostats are permitted but must be withdrawn 5 days before slaughter. Vaccination is allowed. Beak and toe trimming are not._____________________________________________________________________________________________Slaughter age Birds must be grown a minimum of 81 days._____________________________________________________________________________________________Min. dress weight 2.2 lbs without giblets, minimum._____________________________________________________________________________________________Sanitation period There is a minimum sanitation period of 21 days between flocks._____________________________________________________________________________________________Transport No more than 2 hours traveling time or 64 miles to processing plant.______________________________________________________________________________________________Processing Airchill._____________________________________________________________________________________________Shelf life Sold fresh within 9 days after slaughter._____________________________________________________________________________________________ Chart adapted from Francois Paybou, 2000. Technical and Economic Feasibility Study of Adopting French Label Rouge Poultry Systems to Illinois. Master’s Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2).PAGE 2 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE
  3. 3. Independent third-party certifying organiza- region. Landes poultry are still known for beingtions ensure that standards are being followed. raised in a pine forest, using small portable hous-Inspection occurs once per flock, twice per year ing called “Marensines.”for feedmills, monthly for processing plants, and The size of the buildings ranges from 16’ xtwice per year for hatcheries. Each visit includes 16’ (270 sq. ft.) to 20’ x 33’ (645 sq. ft.). Olderbacteriology tests and process control inspections. houses were built of wood; new ones are metal.There are five taste tests per year. In a dense forest, the smaller houses are used to The standards are a baseline that many Label fit between the trees. Litter is spread in theRouge filieres surpass. For example, some groups: houses, which are floorless. Brooding is done in• Use dividers in the house to divide flocks into the houses with portable gas brooders. Part of smaller flocks the feed is kept outside to help train birds to go• Require tree and bush plantings to integrate out. the house into the coun- The houses are tryside as well as provide moved after every shade on pasture grow-out (three times per year) and• Use smaller, portable have knobs where houses wheels can be at-• Do not permit pesticide tached and towed use on the range by tractor. The• Require grit and whole houses are some- grains to improve gut times placed beside health cornfields so that• Maintain a constant ra- birds can benefit tion to keep the taste of from shade and for- the birds constant, not age for insects. Of- changing it when other ten, only three sites The Landes filiere uses portable housing. on the farm are ingredients are less ex- pensive used in rotation. Besides broilers, standards also exist for lay- The sites have a water line or producers fill bar-ers, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineafowl, and ca- rels, which feed water troughs, every couple ofpons. Layers require double yards (rested in ro- days.tation) since they are on the range longer than You can read about the Landes filiere on theirbroilers. The standards are available (in French) website <>.at < (There is an English-language option.)labe/00noti-techLR.html>. There are also LabelRouge ham, sausage, eggs, rabbit, and cheeseproducts. As is evident from this discussion of stan-dards, a certification program can permit muchbroader production claims than a mere defini-tion can. In addition, production claims can beverified by the consumer. CASE STUDIES: LANDES FILIERE AND LOUE FILIERE The journey from a grassroots movement toan industry can be seen by studying two differ-ent filieres. The Label Rouge movement began in the ‘60sin the Southwest of France, in the forested Landes The Landes birds roam in a pine forest. //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE PAGE 3
  4. 4. website is <>. It is available George Berbille invented the portable in French only but has many informative pictures. “Marensine” system 40 years ago and is It is not necessary to use stationary housing considered the father of range poultry pro- in order to build a national industry. U.S. pas- duction in France. His farm is in the South- tured-poultry producers are keenly interested in west in the Landes filiere. He is now eld- pasture rotation and use portable houses; in erly and has lost a leg to a combine but still adapting Label Rouge features, U.S. producers are raises corn and poultry (50,000 birds per more likely to promote portable housing than sta- year by himself). He has 20 small houses, tionary housing. However, small specialty com- which take two days to move with the help panies may adapt a stationary system. Produc- of three people. (They are dismantled be- tion systems are an excellent way to differentiate fore moving.) He also has an on-farm between companies in the marketplace, as long feedmill and mixes feed daily for his use and as the basic standards are followed to market for sale. under a common label. Label Rouge birds are usually produced on diversified farms where they are integrated with Although Label Rouge production began in the other livestock and grain production. Bird ra-Landes region, it was the Loue filiere that was tions are supplemented with whole grains frominstrumental in making it a viable industry. La- the farm; litter from the house is spread on thebel Rouge did not grow as an industry until the fields. Poultry may bring in 50% of the farm in-product became widely available at supermar- come.kets. Although no fence is used in either the Loue or Landes filiere, the loss to predators is only 1% (the U.S., however, has more predator pressure). European Union (EU) definitions differentiate fenced and unfenced production systems: • Fenced: “raised in open air” • Unfenced: “raised in total freedom” The Label Rouge program permits both. The European Union specification 1538-91 defines Label Rouge as “traditional free-range poultry.” See ATTRA’s Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview for a discussion of other range produc- tion systems. GENETICSStationary houses and yards are common in Label Rougeproduction. This is a Loue farm. Slow-growing birds are Slow-growing key in Label Rouge produc- birds are used for Loue is now the largest filiere and represents tion—birds grow to 5 lbs. good flavor andthe typical production system used—a small fixed in 12 weeks. In compari- meat and yard. The house has automated feed- son, the fast-growing broil-ing and watering equipment, and chicks are ers (Cornish cross) of thebrooded in it. The house has several popholes conventional industry reach 5 lbs. in 6–7 weeks.that allow access to the range. There are shade Not only does slow growth allow the organs,bushes planted in the yard as well as tree muscle, and bones to grow in harmony, it alsoplantings. The yard immediately outside the results in a more flavorful meat. The carcass ishouse is dirt. Since specialty “rustic” genetics generally more elongated and has a smaller breastare used, the birds forage well beyond the house and larger legs than conventional carcasses. Inand have access to grassy pasture. Feed and addition, slower-growing breeds are more suitedwater are also provided outside. The Loue to outdoor production than Cornish cross.PAGE 4 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE
  5. 5. Medium-growing genetics are also of inter- est for U.S. pastured-poultry producers. Pro- ducer Tim Shell (6) is developing a broiler called CornDel which is a Delaware/Cornish cross com- bination. Grow-out is 9 weeks. According to Shell, the chicks can be used for parents if feed is restricted so they will not get too fat. Availabil- ity is limited. Henry Noll (7) offers a Silver Cross that grows to 5 lbs. in 9 weeks. Joe Cebe, Sr. (8) offers a Cebe Red and Cebe Black meat variety that grows to 5 lbs. in 9–10 weeks. Redbro is a Hubbard-ISA Shaver product thatThe Label Rouge carcass (left) is more elongated than happens to be available currently in the U.S. viathe compact conventional carcass (right). a Canadian company that imports parents from France. It grows out in 9–10 weeks. Jerry In Europe the slow-growing genetics are Srednicki (9) at a Connecticut hatchery ships day-mainly supplied by the poultry breeding compa- old chicks.nies SASSO (3) and Hubbard-ISA (4). They do There is interest in using standard heirloomnot sell the actual broiler chicks, but rather the chicken breeds for gourmet poultry production,parents; however, many pastured-poultry pro- but in general, heirloom breeds have not yet beenducers have hatching capability. SASSO’s typi- selected for commercial production and the car-cal Label Rouge cross is T44N male x SA51 female cass will be very small at 12 weeks.(using a different male—the T44NI—results in Turkeys are native to the Americas and therewhite underfeathers in are several slow-growingthe offspring). A typi- breeds available. Thesecal Hubbard-ISA cross are naturally-mating tur-is S77N male x JA57 fe- keys and do not requiremale. Broilers from artificial insemination.both of these crosses Some have geographicalwill have red feathers, ties to the regions inyellow shanks, thin which they were devel-skin, and a naked neck. oped (e.g., the BourbonOther parents are Red is from Kentucky andavailable for broilers the Narragansett is fromwith white feathers and Massachusetts). Mikeskin, black feathers, Walters Hatchery (10) of-barred, non-naked fers eight heirloom turkeyneck, etc. or for faster breeds, some of whichgrowth. A black SASSO broiler with the “naked neck” have been selected for At the time of this characteristic. commercial production.writing, SASSO and Developing moreHubbard-ISA genetics poultry breeds with geographical ties could beof this type are not available in the U.S. How- an opportunity for small U.S. poultry breeders.ever, a U.S. company called Rainbow BreedingCompany (5) is developing similar genetics and HEALTHoffers Free Range (FR) Broiler parents. FR Broiler The use of slow-growing genetics and the low-chicks (day-olds) are also available. Male chicks density Label Rouge production system offer dis-are regularly available; female chicks are avail- tinct health advantages—ascites, leg problems,able only sometimes since they are used more in and sudden death are minimal, and birds havebreeding; females grow at 85% the rate of the good immunity. Mortality of conventional broil-males. ers in France is 6% during a 6-week grow-out; it //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE PAGE 5
  6. 6. is half that for Label Rouge production (3%) even PROCESSINGduring a much longer grow-out (12 weeks) (11). Some processing plants exclusively process Since Label Rouge birds have a longer life, Label Rouge products; for others, Label Rouge isthey have a different vaccination schedule than only a percentage of their work. There are sev-conventional broilers. For example, in France, eral large automated Label Rouge plants (for ex-conventional broilers are not vaccinated for ample, Fermier Landes processes 200,000 birdsMarek’s Disease; Label Rouge broilers are vacci- per week), as well asnated. Label Rouge birds are generally vaccinated small ones. Therefor coccidiosis and given dewormers in the feed. are many quality-Probiotics are used; antibiotics can be used only control points dur-if prescribed by a veterinarian. Regular ing Label Rouge pro-biosecurity on the farm is important—footbaths cessing to ensure aare used at the entryways to houses, and visitors high-quality car-must wear protective clothing. cass. Processing Since France has a mild climate, birds are plants in Franceraised outdoors year-round. However, the mean cool carcasses bynumber of flocks per year is only 3.2 since the air-chilling insteadgrow-out is long and there is a long downtime of immersion-chill- Air-chilling is used instead ofrequired between flocks for proper sanitation and ing. (In immersion- immersion-chilling in France.pasture rest. chilling, the car- FEEDING casses soak up water.) A soft scald is used in- A low-protein and low-calorie diet is used stead of the hard scald typical in the U.S. (Afor slow-growing birds. Whereas typical fast- soft scald uses a lower temperature for a longergrowing Cornish cross rations in the industry time than a hard scald and keeps the skin in-start at 22% crude tact.)protein and finish at Although ready-to-cook products are the17% protein, Label Low-protein and low- most common, a variety of dressing methods areRouge rations start at calorie diets are used used. In the eflilee style, the bird is evisceratedonly 20% protein for a slow rate of gain. but the crop, head, and feet are left intact. Cornand finish at 15%. finishing is a part of this presentation—the cus-According to Jeff tomer should be able to feel whole grains still inMattocks of Fertrell the crop. Birds dressed in this style are slaugh-(12), pastured poultry producers in the U.S. of- tered and eviscerated manually.ten use only one ration of 19% protein. A low- Processing plants may also handle a varietyprotein ration is used to slow down the rapid of species. For example, Fermier Landes pro-growth of Cornish Cross. This type of ration cesses chickens, guinea fowl, cockerels, and rab-could easily be used for slow-growing genetics. bits, as well as capons and turkeys for Christ- All meat meal is banned from livestock feed mas. Although it is a large plant, they can putin Europe. Even fishmeal is not permitted in La- together small custom orders for butchers andbel Rouge production because it could be confused other clients.with meat meal. Only vegetable fat is permittedand no genetically engineered crops can be usedin feed. Some feedmills in France are dedicated to theeradication of Salmonella in feed. At Landal, afeedmill in the Southwest that supplies feed tothe Landes company, entering trucks must bedisinfected, and high heat is used during millingto kill pathogens. Butchershops sell specialized products, including this Label Rouge poultry with the feet still on.PAGE 6 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE
  7. 7. Part II: Organization The key to the quality group reviews the market prices—for Coordination of the Label Rouge system both the production inputs and the final prod- supply chain offers a is the supply chain. ucts—frequently, and adjusts the farmers’ mar- number of benefits, in- Grassroots pas- gin and the price to the consumer as needed. cluding coordination of tured-poultry pro- Risks and rewards are shared by all players in the stages of produc- ducers in the U.S. the chain. tion, lower costs, abil- are largely indepen- Each sector incurs costs from being part of ity to reduce patho- dent and may be the supply chain, including costs associated with gens throughout, and particularly inter- certification, such as time required to keep complete traceability. ested in supply records. Each sector may also have to contrib- chain structure and ute to a check-off that funds the group’s mar-the benefits that coordination can offer. keting and other activities. Thus each sector SUPPLY CHAIN STRUCTURE must have some incentive to participate, and the rewards must outweigh the costs. Filiere is a French term for a supply chain There is no one model for filiere structure,that centers around a group of poultry produc- and there is a lot of crossing-over within anders with upstream affiliates (breeding company, among the filieres in the Label Rouge system. Forhatchery, feed mill) and downstream affiliates example, a processing plant may serve more(processor, distributor, retailer). It is a highly than one producer group; a breeding companycoordinated alliance, but not necessarily verti- may sell breeding stock to all the filieres.cally integrated. While some filieres do own thehatchery, the feed mill, and/or the processing BENEFITS OF COORDINATIONfacilities, they differ from conventional integra- A coordinated supply chain helps lower pro-tors. duction costs by improving cost efficiencies (bulk purchases, etc.) and coordinating the stages of production. It also allows Diagram 1. Filieres complete traceability of the final prod- Upstream Downstream uct. The Label Rouge traceback sys- (Hatchery, ó Producer Group ó (Processor, tem is so detailed that batches of birds Feedmill) Distributor, Retail) can be traced from the consumer to Management association: Quality Group their grandparents’ flocks. A code on the package indicates the farm, the The filiere is centered around a group of pro- origin of the chicks, the processingducers and associates called the “quality group,” plant, and so on. Wing-banded birds can evenwhich holds managerial responsibility for the be traced individually.filiere. This body—not the processor, input sup- Coordination permits quality controlplier, or distributor—retains control of the brand throughout the supply chain. If there are bro-and makes the pricing, marketing, and advertis- ken wings in the picker, where did they comeing decisions. This allows for a balance of power from—the picker or the farm? It helps cooper-among producers and other players in the sup- ating growers produce a consistent product.ply chain. Farmers earn more per bird from La-bel Rouge production than they do from being con-tract growers in the conventional poultry indus-try; however, conventional contract growers raisemore birds per year. Since farmers are repre-sented in the quality group, they have input intothe returns they get on their birds and the num-ber of flocks they raise. Deciding on the margin that goes to the farmer On-farm record-keeping is important not only foris a crucial point for each supply chain. The filiere’s charting performance but also for traceability. //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE PAGE 7
  8. 8. A coordinated supply chain also provides of the Label Rouge brands are names of Frenchan excellent opportunity for addressing food cities or regions. Geographic restriction is im-safety. In Label Rouge production, a pathogen- portant to prevent large-scale copying, and brandreduction or HACCP-type program is applied ownership keeps the brand names in the farm-not only at the processing level (as required in ers’ hands.the U.S.) but throughout the entire supply chain. Most Label Rouge products are sold whole butFor example, breeding flocks, hatcheries, feed the amount of cut-up is increasing. About 135mills, farms, processing plants, and transporta- million birds are produced each year, and 15 mil-tion are all monitored for Salmonella and other lion are cut-up. Label Rouge also offers an or-pathogens. Label Rouge has an excellent food ganic record—only 3% of Label Rouge carcassesare contaminated with Salmonella (1). Sales ofLabel Rouge products have risen in the wake ofseveral BSE or “mad cow” food scares, sinceconsumers are assured that no animal by-prod-ucts have been fed in the program. Another benefit of coordination is that LabelRouge provides technical support and trouble-shooting assistance to producers, which is par-ticularly helpful for health issues such as a vacci-nation program and disease diagnosis. There is not a lot of public research on LabelRouge production. Companies do research ontheir own farms or the farms of their producers,but they do not share the resulting information. MARKETING The Label Rouge filieres sell branded productsthat are strongly tied to regional areas and havetheir own images. For example, the Landes filieremarkets the image of chickens ranging free in thepine forests along the Atlantic coast. There maybe several regional brands competing in a super-market. Label Rouge chicken is sold both whole and cut-up in the supermarket. ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT The Label Rouge system has strong organi- zational support both in the government and in the private sector. The French government is committed to strengthening rural development. Government agencies are responsible for setting and maintaining certification standardsThe Landes filiere markets poultry raised in pine forests (CNLC), accrediting the certifiers (COFRAC),along the Atlantic coast. and protecting against label infringement In France, there is a concept of “terroir”— (CERQUA). CERQUA protects Label Rougethat taste comes from the earth. Certain regions from being copied by store brands or privateare associated with certain tastes. In fact, most labels.PAGE 8 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE
  9. 9. To obtain a label, a filiere submits a cahier de LABEL ROUGE WORK IN THE U.S.charge to the CNLC. This is a very detailed busi- The University of Illinois has a project to pro-ness plan, or code of practice, that documents mote the production and marketing of gourmetthe production, processing, and monitoring pro- chickens in Illinois (13). In 1999, graduate stu-cess. It can take several months to get approval. dent Francois Paybou, working under the direc- SYNALAF is an industry organization that tion of agricultural economics professor Randallcollects a check-off from the sale of each bird to Westgren, carried out technical and economic fea-conduct national consumer-education campaigns sibility studies for adopting the Label Rouge sys-about the benefits of Label Rouge poultry. tem in Illinois (2). Although Paybou determinedSYNALAF represents 38 filieres, which include feasibility to be positive, he identified two key6,000 farmers—about half the poultry growers in elements that are lacking in the U.S.: an eco-France. Public education is key to the high pre- nomical supply of French genetics, and air-chillmiums paid for Label Rouge products (1). processing plants. Another student, Amy Heady, Strong consumer organizations are involved did a market feasibility study to analyze con-in the development of standards and certifica- sumer demand. She found that adoption of ation. This results in standards that are respon- Label Rouge system was still premature and toosive to consumer interests, such as a recent ban expensive given the current retail market. Feasi-on the use of genetically modified organisms bility may be greater in the restaurant market,(GMOs). where Chicago chefs, at least, are willing to pay The Label Rouge system is complex but has $1.50 to $2.00 per lb. (14).built good working relationships — among pro- Entrepreneur David Wilson started a Labelducers, consumers, and government — that po- Rouge-type business venture in the early ‘90s. Hesition family farmers to be economically sustain- became interested in Label Rouge by talking toable. Label Rouge is farmer-created, consumer- chefs who wanted a premium bird. He importeddriven, and government-supported (2). specialty genetics from France, calling them “La Interest in labeling is growing in the U.S., Belle Rouge,” and contracted with growers inwhere Certified Organic is currently one of the Kentucky and North Carolina who had olderbest-known labels. “Quality labels” like Label chicken houses on their farms. He followed La-Rouge provide information to consumers on prod- bel Rouge requirements for flock size and den-uct attributes such as taste, health benefits, and sity; the total range space was usually a couplenutrition, as well as on social issues such as sup- of acres around the house. The broiler operationport of local farms. They can also provide infor- was year-round, but the birds did not go out-mation on ecologically sound production prac- doors when the temperature dropped below 40ºF,tices and other factors related to sustainability. making a 90-day window in Kentucky in whichPlease call ATTRA for further information on the birds stayed indoors. During this time, stock-“eco-labeling” and organic certification. ing 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 Ken- tucky (no longer in operation). The meat was sold in Kentucky and North Carolina. Accord- ing to Paybou, the Wilson business failed because investors rather than a farmer group were in con- trol. They did not fully understand the system— the failure was not due to problems with the prod- uct or market. More recently, the National Center for Ap- propriate Technology (NCAT) was funded by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s Scientific Cooperative Research Program to travel to France to gather technical information about poultry pro- A Label Rouge product in the supermarket. duced under Label Rouge, to disseminate the in- //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE PAGE 9
  10. 10. formation, to develop French contacts, and fa- friendly. Medium-growth genetics are used. Acilitate drafting of production standards. NCAT fast-growing male is crossed with a slow-grow-operates ATTRA, an information service for sus- ing Label Rouge female to obtain a 5-pound birdtainable agriculture that reaches thousands of in 56 days. Natural feeding is required, but ac-farmers, educators, and other agricultural pro- cess to the outdoors is not. This program certi-fessionals each year. fies the process used but does not have taste tests. OTHER FRENCH LABELING PROGRAMS OPPORTUNITIES Label Rouge is only one of four major labeling Label Rouge-type poultry production is anprograms in France. The other programs include opportunity well-suited to the grassroots pas-Appelation D’Origine Controlee (AOC), Organic, and tured-poultry movement in the U.S., as well asCertificate of Conformity. All four complement small specialty poultry companies. However,each other well. raising slow-growing broilers to 12 weeks costs The Appellation more than raising fast-growing broilers to 8 The major labeling D’Orgine Controlee weeks. Many grassroots pastured-poultry pro- programs in France (AOC) label is probably ducers market directly to consumers on the farm complement each the best-known. This or at farmers’ markets, and their customers may other, reducing con- program reserves brand not be willing to pay the higher price. sumer confusion. names for a certain re- Small poultry companies or networks that gion—for example, serve larger markets or specialty markets may “champagne” refers to more readily find customers who are willing tosparkling wines produced in the Champagne re- pay extra for a pasture-raised, gourmet-type bird.gion of France. The product cannot legally be Coordinated networks could keep the productsreproduced outside its region. Such labels are at an affordable price by means of fine-tuned pro-most often used for wine and cheese products, duction systems and cost efficiencies. In France,but there is a poultry product called “poulet de consumers at all economic levels buy specialtyBresse” that can be raised only in the Bresse re- poultry; not just wealthy consumers. The futuregion. These birds are known for being finished development of a certification program will beon milk. Please see the website <http:// important for consumer education, which will> for more information. turn help build demand. The European Union actually recognizes two Large companies may find a certification pro-types of geographic protection of agricultural gram similar to the “Certificate of Conformity”products: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) (see section on Other French Labeling Programs)and Protected Geographic Indication (PGI). The to be a more attractive opportunity than LabelPDO refers to the AOC label. PGI is less strict Rouge. In Label Rouge-type production, the flockand refers to the Label Rouge system. The follow- size is limited to about 16,000 birds on one farming website from the European Union discusses (in four small houses), and there are fewer flocksquality labels: < per year because of the long grow-out period.agriculture/foodqual/quali1_en.htm>. Label Rouge is designed for regional rather than The French Organic standards for poultry pro- national markets.duction are based on the European Union require- The outdoor production systems used in La-ments but are stricter. Grow-out is a long 99 bel Rouge are more adapted to small diversifieddays. The Organic market in France is not as family farms than to large companies. Allan Na-well-developed as in the U.S. because of compe- tion, editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer and atition from Label Rouge. Organic poultry prod- U.S. visionary in the field of sustainable agricul-ucts cost four times as much as conventional ture, found during his European travels that itproducts, whereas Label Rouge products cost only can be a marketing advantage to family farmerstwice as much. ATTRA can provide more infor- to produce something that is “hard to produce”mation on organic poultry production. (15). The Certificate of Conformity program is aquality-control label that is relatively industry-PAGE 10 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE
  11. 11. References 5) Rainbow Breeding Company c/o Richard Udale P.O. Box 911 Gentry, AR 727341) Westgren, Randall E. 1999. Delivering 479-903-6373 cell food safety, food quality, and sustainable production practices: The Label Rouge Poultry System in France. American Or: Journal of Agricultural Economics. Danny Eiland December. p. 1107–1111. (Alabama)2) Paybou, Francois. 2000. Technical and 205-389-3466 Economic Feasibility Study of Adopting French Label Rouge Poultry Systems to FR Broiler parents sell for $8.00 each. The Illinois. Master’s Thesis, University of offspring are $0.25-$1.00 each, depending on Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. the number ordered.3) SASSO 6) Tim Shell Route de Solferino 407 Mt. Solon Rd. 40630 Sabres Mt. Solon, VA 22843-9718 France 540-885-4965 (33) 05 58 04 46 46 (33) 05 58 04 46 47 fax The CornDel chicks sell for $0.95/ea., straight run, plus shipping, in lots of 100 and are shipped on Tuesdays via Priority Mail for4) Hubbard-ISA, Americas arrival on Thurs. 3239 Satellite Blvd. Duluth, GA 30096 7) Noll’s Poultry Farm 678-638-3900 Kleinfeltersville, PA 17039 678-638-3901 fax 717-949-3560 717-949-3722 fax Hubbard-ISA, Worldwide Operations 119 Avenue Marechal de Saxe 8) Cebe Farms 69427 Lyon Cedex 03 P.O. Box 1404 France Ramona, CA 92065 33 (0)472 610220 760-789-8221. 33 (0)472 619255 Joe Cebe, Sr. Straight-run chicks cost $0.55 each. 9) Yankee Chicks, Inc./Hall Brothers Hatchery P.O. Box 1026 Norwich, CT 06360 860-886-2421 860-889-6351 fax 860-608-1389 cell Contact: Jerry Srednicki Straight-run chicks cost $0.65 each. Males more commonly available. //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE PAGE 11
  12. 12. 10) Mike Walters 14) Heady, Amy. 1999. Market Feasibility for Walters Hatchery Label Rouge-Type Poultry in Illinois. Rt. 3, Box 1490 Master’s Thesis. University of Illinois at Stilwell, OK 74960 Urbana-Champaign. 918-778-3535 15) Nation, Allan. 2001. Forget wine, the French say the money is in specialty cheese. The Stockman Grass Farmer.11) Jean-Michel Faure, 2002. INRA, Nouzilly, June. p. 1, 6–10. France, personal communication.12) Jeff Mattocks By Anne Fanatico and Holly Born Fertrell Co. NCAT Agriculture Specialists P.O. Box 265 Bainbridge, PA 17502 Edited by Richard Earles 717-367-1566 Formatted by Gail Hardy 800-347-1566 November 200213) Illinois Gourmet Chicken Project University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign The electronic version of Label Rouge: 326 Mumford Hall Pasture-Based Poultry Production in 1301 West Gregory Dr. France is located at: Urbana, IL 61801 HTML Contacts: Randall Westgren,, 217-333-3686 labelrouge.html Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, PDF, 217-968-5512 labelrouge.pdf index.html IP202PAGE 12 //LABEL ROUGE: PASTURE-BASED POULTRY PRODUCTION IN FRANCE