Sun, fresh grass and unlimited food in a secure 16-hectare park: the first "retirement home" for laying hens has just welcomed 600 boarders in a French farm, property of a start-up who wants to save the chickens of the slaughterhouse by producing eggs differently
"The egg that does not kill the chicken" is the slogan chosen by the company "Poulehouse", created early 2017 in Coussac-Bonneval, 40 km south of Limoges (center-west), and already almost at financial equilibrium.
"It is by becoming a vegetarian that I became interested in eggs, a source of animal protein a priori (obtained) without suffering. And I discovered that the vast majority of chickens, including those from organic farms, are sent to the slaughterhouse at only 18 months "while they can live much longer, says Fabien Sauleman, co-founder of Poulehouse.
"Especially since a hen can lay eggs Throughout her life, she is just a little less productive "when she gets older, says her partner Elodie Pellegrain, agronomist by profession.
Hence the idea of a" retirement system "for hens
"Our bet was that people were willing to pay more for an ethical egg, with full traceability, but also so that farmers are paid the right price and the hens are not killed," says Sebastien Neusch, in charge of digital and marketing at Poulehouse, where he is co-founder and managing director.
Bet held: "The first tests on Facebook were so conclusive that a community was born around the project even before the company "19659002] The concept is similar to the French pay-as-you-go system: active hens work to pay for the retirement of their elders.
– Chickens with eggs gold –  Young hens, at the height of their egg-laying potential, are at work with organic breeders, partners of the brand. The latter, four in number at the moment, pledge to practice no mutilation of the beak, to market the eggs under the brand name "Poulehouse" and to return the layers to the start-up rather than to the slaughterhouse when they reach 18 months
In exchange, farmers collect a few cents for each egg.
Sold for one euro each – about twice as expensive as a classic organic egg – the Poulehouse eggs not only finance the comfort of the retired hens in Coussac-Bonneval, but also the whole research and development part of the company.
"In the long term, our project is that organic farmers settle on the same model and keep the old hens at home, because we will have proved that at the price of the ethical egg that we propose the business model works" , Fabien summarizes.
According to this Parisian entrepreneur, "twenty or so farmers want to join the network, but for the moment we do not have enough outlets."
Since the first boxes were marketed in September 2017, 400,000 eggs have already been sold in 300 points of sale, organic (Biocoop, Naturalia) or conventional supermarkets (Franprix, Monoprix and soon Carrefour).
This fall, Poulehouse plans to welcome 3,000 additional gallinaceous plants in its farm. Coussac-Bonneval, able to accommodate up to 18,000 boarders in total.
And for future retirees, a fundraising is underway on a dedicated crowdfunding platform. Innovations (myoptions.co) to raise 100,000 euros and build new warehouses
In addition to raising public awareness of the fate of chickens, the Limousin farm will also be dedicated to research, with the aim of collecting mortality data. , the productivity and health status of hens beyond the 18 fateful months. A task assigned to the team's scientist, Elodie Pellegrain, in coordination with a homeopathic veterinarian