Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 315–327 | Cite as

Establishing ethical organic poultry production: a question of successful cooperation management?

  • Martina SchäferEmail author
Symposium/Special Issue


In reaction to growing critics regarding ecological and ethical aspects of intensive animal husbandry, different initiatives of ethical poultry production try to establish alternative food supply chains on the market. To be able to stabilise these niche innovations parallel to the mainstream regime, new forms of cooperation along the value added chain and with the consumers play an important role. Based on a case study of integrated egg and meat production from a dual-purpose breed by small multifunctional farms in Northeast of Germany, the paper exemplifies the challenges for the different partners of the food supply chain and cooperation management. Empirical data were obtained via nine qualitative interviews with actors along the value chain and via participatory observation of workshops and meetings. The research was embedded in a transdisciplinary project, where different measures to meet the existing challenges were taken and evaluated. Analysing the existing cooperation reveals possibilities for improving cooperation management by e.g. clarifying the goals of the cooperation, including the points of sale as part of the food supply chain and communication of the ethical and sustainability qualities of the product to the consumers. However, the analysis also shows the limits of cooperation in an environment dominated by the paradigm of specialisation, economies of scale and cost reduction, which is also characteristic for parts of the organic sector. The paper discusses if the challenges of establishing this radical niche innovation can be met without a fundamental change of framework conditions as e.g. regulation on animal husbandry.


Ethical poultry production Cooperation management Alternative food supply chains Dual-purpose breeds Specialisation Intensification Niche innovations 



Research was carried out within the project ginkoo, which is financed from 2015 to 2019 by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). More information: The article is based on experiences made within the whole transdisciplinary research project and exchange especially with Benjamin Nölting, Ute Günster and the coordinator of the group, Bettina König.


  1. Becker, N. 2013. Bio-Eier haben Marktanteil von 9% (28 March 2013). Last accessed 29 June 2018
  2. BMEL Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (Federal Ministry of Food an Agriculture). 2016. Last accessed 28 June 2018.
  3. BMEL, Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture). 2018. Per capita consumption of poultry meat in Germany from 1991 to 2016 (in kilograms). Statista 2018. Last accessed 28 June 2018.
  4. Boddenberg, M., M. H. Frauenlob, L. Gunkel, S. Schmitz, F. Vaessen, and B. Blättel-Mink. 2017. Solidarische Landwirtschaft als innovative Praxis—Potenziale für einen sozial-ökologischen Wandel. In Soziale Innovationen nachhaltigen Konsums, eds. M. Jaeger-Erben, J. Rückert-John, and M. Schäfer, 125–148. Wiesbaden: Springer VS-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruijnis, M. R. N., V. Blok, E. N. Stassen, and H. G. J. Gremmen. 2015. Moral “Lock-In” in Responsible Innovation: The Ethical and Social Aspects of Killing Day-Old Chicks and Its Alternatives. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (5): 939–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brümmer, N., I. Christoph-Schulz, and A. K. Rovers. 2017. Consumers’ Perspective on Dual-Purpose Chickens. In Proceedings of the 11th International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks 2017, eds. J. Deiters, U. Rickert and G. Schiefer, 164–169. Bonn, Germany: University of Bonn, February 13–17, 2017. Accessed 12 June 2018.
  7. Brunner, T. A., K. van der Horst, and M. Siegrist. 2010. Convenience Food Products. Drivers for Consumption. Appetite 55 (3): 498–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brunori, G., D. Barjolle, A. Dockes, S. Helmle, J. Ingram, L. Klerkx, H. Moschitz, G. Nemes, and T. Tisenkopfs. 2013. CAP Reform and Innovation: The Role of Learning and Innovation Networks. Eurochoices 12 (2): 27–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brunori, G., F. Galli, D. Barjolle, R. van Broekhuizen, L. Colombo, M. Giampietro, J. Kirwan, T. Lang, E. Mathijs, D. Maye, K. de Roest, C. Rougoor, J. Schwarz, E. Schmitt, J. Smith, Z. Stojanovic, T. Tisenkopfs, and J. M. Touzard. 2016. Are Local Food Chains More Sustainable than Global Food Chains? Considerations for Assessment. Sustainability 8 (5): 449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buller, H., and E. Roe. 2018. Food and Animal Welfare. London: Bloomsbury Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christensen, L. G. 1998. Future Market and Consumer-Orientated Breeding Goals. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A—Animal Science 28: 45–53.Google Scholar
  12. Damme, K. 2015. Economics of Dual-Purpose Breeds—A Comparison of Meat and Egg Production Using Dual Purpose Breeds Versus Conventional Broiler and Layer Strains. LOHMANN Information 50 (2): 4–9.Google Scholar
  13. Darnhofer, I., T. Lindenthal, T., R. Bartel-Kratochvil, and W. Zollitsch. 2010. Conventionalisation of Organic Farming Practices: from Structural Criteria Towards an Assessment Based on Organic Principles. A Review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 30: 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Demeter e.V. 2016. GeflügelhaltungHandbuch für die Landwirtschaft. Accessed 28 June 2018.
  15. FAO. 2013. Country report supporting the preparation of The Second Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Including Sector-Specific Data Contributing to The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. Accessed 28 June 2018.
  16. Gómez, M. I., and K. D. Ricketts. 2013. Food Value Chain Transformations in Developing Countries: Selected Hypotheses on Nutritional Implications. Food Policy 42: 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hall, A., and V. Mogyorody. 2001. Organic Farmers in Ontario: An Examination of the Conventionalization Argument. Sociologia Ruralis 41 (4): 399–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hendrickson, M. K., and H. S. James. 2005. The Ethics of Constrained Choice: How the Industrialization of Agriculture Impacts Farming and Farmer Behavior. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18 (3): 269–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heng, Y., H. H. Peterson, and X. Li. 2013. Consumer Attitudes towards Farm-Animal Welfare: The Case of Laying Hens. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 38 (3): 418–434.Google Scholar
  20. Horlings, L. G., and T. K. Marsden. 2014. Exploring the ‘New Rural Paradigm’ in Europe: Eco-economic Strategies as a Counterforce to the Global Competitiveness Agenda. European Urban and Regional Studies 21 (1): 4–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hughner, R. S., P. McDonagh, A. Prothero, C. J. Shultz II, and J. Stanton. 2007. Who are Organic Food Consumers? A Compilation and Review of Why People Purchase Organic Food. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 6 (2–3): 94–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ingram, J. D., J. Maye, N. Kirwan, Curry, and K. Kubinakova. 2015. Interactions Between Niche and Regime: An Analysis of Learning and Innovation Networks for Sustainable Agriculture across Europe. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 21 (1): 55–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jochemsen, H. 2013. An Ethical Foundation for Careful Animal Husbandry. NJAS—Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 66: 55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kemp, R., J. Schot, and R. Hoogma. 1998. Regime Shifts to Sustainability Through Processes of Niche Formation: The Approach of Strategic Niche Management. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 10 (2): 175–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kijlstra, A., and I. A. J. M. Eijck. 2006. Animal Health in Organic Livestock Production Systems: A Review. NJAS—Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 54 (1): 77–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kirwan, J., D. Maye, and G. Brunori. 2017. Acknowledging Complexity in Food Supply Chains When Assessing Their Performance and Sustainability. Journal of Rural Studies 52: 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Knickel, K., G. Brunori, S. Rand, and J. Proost. 2009. Towards a Better Conceptual Framework for Innovation Processes in Agriculture and Rural Development: From Linear Models to Systemic Approaches. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 15 (2): 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Knickel, K., H. Renting, and J. D. van der, and Ploeg. 2004. Multifunctionality in European Agriculture. In Sustaining Agriculture and the Rural Economy: Governance, Policy and Multifunctionality, ed. F. Brouwer, 81–103. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Knierim, U., L. Schrader, and A. Steiger. 2006. Alternative Legehennenhaltung in der Praxis: Erfahrungen, Probleme, Lösungsansätze. FAL Agricultural Research, Landbauforschung Völkenrode, Special Issue, 302.Google Scholar
  30. König, B., A. Kuntosch, and L. Wortmann. 2017. Der Zweinutzungshuhnansatz aus der Perspektive der Innovationsforschung. In Ökologischen Landbau weiterdenken—Verantwortung übernehmen—Vertrauen stärken, eds. S. Wolfrum et al., 420–423. Beiträge der 14. Freising-Weihenstephan: Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau, 7–10 March 2017. Accessed 21 June 2018.
  31. König, B., B. Nölting, M. Schäfer, and L. Wortmann. 2016. Managing transdisciplinarity—Using the Situation Analysis Approach for a Joint Problem Framing. Presentation at 12th European IFSA Symposium—Social and technological transformation of farming systems: Diverging and converging pathways, 12–15 July 2016, Harper Adams University, UK.Google Scholar
  32. Leenstra, F., P. Horne, and M. van Krimpen. 2010. Dual Purpose Chickens, Exploration of Technical, Environmental and Economical Feasibility. In Worlds’s Poultry Science Association Proceedings 2010. XIIIth European Poultry Conference. Tours, France, 23–27 August 2010. Accessed 17 June 2018.
  33. Leenstra, F., V. Maurer, F. Galea, M. Bestman, Z. Amsler-Kepalaite, J. Visscher, I. Vermeij, and M. van Krimpen. 2014. Laying Hen Performance in Different Production Systems; Why Do They Differ and How to Close the Gap? European Poultry Science 78.
  34. Luttikholt, L. W. 2007. Principles of Organic Agriculture as Formulated by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. NJAS—Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 54: 347–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moschitz, H., D. Roep, G. Brunori, and T. Tisenkopfs. 2015. Learning and Innovation Networks for Sustainable Agriculture: Processes of Co-evolution, Joint Reflection and Facilitation. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 21 (1): 1–11. Scholar
  36. Nölting, B., M. Gutendorf, and M. Schäfer. 2017. Kooperationen für eine nachhaltige Hühnerhaltung. In Ökologischen Landbau weiterdenkenVerantwortung übernehmenVertrauen stärken, eds. S. Wolfrum, H. Heuwinkel, H.J. Reents et al., 410–413. Beiträge der 14. Freising-Weihenstephan: Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau, 7–10 March 2017. Accessed 17 June 2018.
  37. Nölting, B., and M. Schäfer. 2016. Cooperation Management as a Distinct Function in Innovation Processes for Alternative Food Production and Consumption—Potentials and Limitations. Paper for the 12th European IFSA Symposium “Social and technological transformation of farming systems: Diverging and converging pathways”, Harper Adams University, 12–16 July 2016. Accessed 21 June 2018.
  38. 2017. Nachfrage nach Bioeiern erreicht Spitzenwert, 17.8.2017.Google Scholar
  39. Olsson, A., C. Gamborg, and P. Sandøe. 2006. Taking Ethics into Account in Farm Animal Breeding: What can the Breeding Companies Achieve? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 19 (1): 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pieniążek, J. 2014. Crowdfunding and New Trends in Consumer Behaviour. MINIB—Marketing of Scientific and Research Organizations.
  41. Ponte, S. 2009. Governing Through Quality: Conventions and Supply Relations in the Value Chain for South African Wine. Sociologia Ruralis 49 (3): 236–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rautenschlein, S. 2016. Einsatz des Zweinutzungshuhns in Mast und Eierproduktion: Ansätze für ein integriertes Haltungskonzept. Rundschau für Fleischhygiene und Lebensmittelüberwachung (RFL) 68 (8): 276–278.Google Scholar
  43. Schot, J., and F. W. Geels. 2008. Strategic Niche Management and Sustainable Innovation Journeys: Theory, Findings, Research Agenda, and Policy. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 20 (5): 537–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Skřivan, M., S. H. Pickinpaugh, V. Pavlů, E. Skřivanová, and M. Englmaierová. 2015. A Mobile System for Rearing Meat Chickens on Pasture. Czech Journal of Animal Science 60 (2): 52–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smith, A. 2006. Green Niches in Sustainable Development: The Case of Organic Food in the United Kingdom. Environmental and Planning C: Government and Policy 24: 439–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Statistisches Bundesamt. 2017. Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Fischerei. In Geflügel 2014 Fachserie 3 Reihe 4.2.3. Wiesbaden. Accessed 28 June 2018.
  47. Sutherland, M. A., J. Webster, and I. Sutherland. 2013. Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems. Animals 3 (4): 1021–1035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tixier-Boichard, M., F. Leenstra, D. K. Flock, P. M. Hocking, and S. Weigend. 2012. A Century of Poultry Genetics. World’s Poultry Science Journal 68 (2): 307–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. van Bueren, E. M., E. T. Lammerts, van Bueren, and A. J. van der, and Zijpp. 2014. Understanding Wicked Problems and Organized Irresponsibility: Challenges for Governing the Sustainable Intensification of Chicken Meat Production. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 8: 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van Mierlo, B., A. Janssen, F. Leenstra, and E. van Weeghel. 2012. Encouraging System Learning in Two Poultry Subsectors. Agricultural Systems 115: 29–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vanhonacker, F., and W. A. J. Verbeke. 2009. Buying Higher Welfare Poultry Products? Profiling Flemish Consumers Who Do and Do Not. Poultry Science 88 (12): 2702–2711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Warde, A. 1999. Convenience Food: Space and Timing. British Food Journal 107 (7): 518–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Winter, M. 2003. Geographies of Food: Agro-food Geographies—Making Reconnections. Progress in Human Geography 27: 505–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Technology and SocietyTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations