Lime pellets in pecking stones for chickens and chicks

Due to the termination of the collaboration between AquaMinerals and CA Minerals in 2021, the news item below is no longer accurate.

AquaMinerals has been working with its participants for a long time on the application of residual streams in the feed sector. Recently, together with Ca Minerals B.V., we developed a surprising innovation for poultry farming: pecking stones as a distraction for chickens.

As a result of changes in the law aimed at improving animal welfare, as of this September the beaks of laying hens can no longer be trimmed or cut. Alternatives were needed to prevent the chickens from injuring each other with their beaks. Providing them with pecking stones is one of the possibilities. Working with Ca Minerals we developed the stone using lime pellets and ground pellets as a filler. We selected pellets from a variety of sites in part to achieve a good mineral mix; high magnesium content, for instance, has a calming effect on the chickens.

Ca Minerals supplies the stones in two levels of hardness using lime pellets from different drinking water companies. The softer stone is for chickens bred for meat production and is also good for bone formation. The adult laying hens get the harder stone, which also contributes to good egg-shell formation. But most of all, this innovation contributes to the greater tranquillity and welfare of the animals.

Certification for quality and safety

To guarantee the quality and safety of animal feed, the sector requires that its suppliers have a GMP+ product certification. GMP stands for ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’. The standard comprehensively establishes how a product is composed and manufactured; hygiene and traceability are among the requirements. The plus sign after GMP stands for the additional HACCP standard, which involves a hazard inventory for food products and is thus a good supplement to the GMP.

The drinking water company Vitens has already had a variety of residual streams certified in this manner. For its part, the Limburg Water Distribution Company WML is working on a GMP+ certification for lime pellets from the IJzeren Kuilen production site. This is extremely promising.