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Financial Viability of Dutch Kipster Facility Questioned

10/31/2017

Despite laudatory articles relating to an “environmentally friendly” house for laying hens, there are serious questions as to return the on investment even with a premium price for the eggs produced. The entire production of the Kipster house will be assigned to Lidl, a company not exactly noted for its generosity towards suppliers.

 

The Kipster house incorporates over 1,000 solar panels which supply electrical power with a claimed 60 percent of generated capacity sold back into the grid. The article provides no indication of whether this proportion is based on a limited period of maximum solar exposure or whether it represents an average over 24-hours throughout the year. 

 

A feature of one article in an E.U. poultry periodical was obviously authored by a lay-journalist who suggested that “the feed given to the chickens is made from agricultural farm waste products”. This is arrant nonsense. To achieve acceptable production parameters from flocks, it is necessary to satisfy all nutrient requirements including energy, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and micronutrients. A balanced diet cannot be compounded from “waste which would otherwise not be used for human consumption.” Chickens, as with all monogastric livestock effectively compete with humans for ingredients.

 

The design of house incorporates a sunporch and an indoor garden with a glass roof. Outside access will be allowed during acceptable weather conditions and under low risk of avian influenza. Eggs produced by the Kipster Farm will receive a three star certification from the Beter Leven program

 

The lavish description showered on the Kipster project is reminiscent of the “Rondeel” introduced nearly a decade ago and supported by supermarket chain Albert Hein. Apart from the prototype and a small demonstration unit only three other commercial installations have been sold and the concept may be regarded as a commercial if not a practical failure. It will be interesting to determine if any subsidies or financial support was extended to the Kipster operation which would reduce the capital required by the owners and hence lower the fixed cost component of production.

 

Any serious evaluator of the Kipster concept would require capital investment, projection of fixed and variable costs and the selling price specifying any premium to determine the return on investment. Financial data would be more convincing than a discussion of environmental benefits.

 

(SMS 1,777-17 October 31st 2017)