Agroforestry for poultry systems in the Netherlands

Description of system

There are approximately 2,300 hectares used for free-range poultry in the Netherlands. However it is only since 1999, that farmers have looked at combinations of poultry with trees. In farmers’ network ‘Trees for chickens’ four poultry farmers have planted fruit trees. In another project, two poultry farmers have planted willow plantations. Independent from these projects, several other organic and free-range poultry farmers have planted walnut trees, fruit trees, Christmas trees, and willows in their free range areas.

Initial stakeholder meeting

The first regional meeting of nine stakeholders was held on 9 July 2014 at a farm with broilers in acherry orchard in Terschuur in the Netherlands and the second was held on 18 September 2014, attwo walnut plantations near Winterswijk.
The key positive aspects of the agroforestry system were thought to be animal health and welfare, landscape aesthetics, and timber and nut production. Negative aspects included labour and management costs and problems with mechanization. The establishment of profitable combinations was a potential research focus.
If you would like to know about the activity of this group, please contact Monique Bestman M.Bestman@LOUISBOLK.NL at the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands

Download the initial stakeholder reports

Download the initial research and development protocol

Download the system description

An update on agroforestry research with free-range egg production in the Netherlands was produced in November 2015.

Lessons learnt

In October 2017, Monique Bestman and colleagues at the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands summarised the lessons learnt from their research on using agroforestry for organic/free-range egg production in the Netherlands. They examined and relate their experience of working with several examples of agroforestry: egg production with apples, biomass willows, Miscanthus, a tree nursery, and walnut trees. They also examined broiler production with cherry trees. The combinations have advantages for animal welfare and animal health. However there are high investments costs and there is often a lack of training or expertise in how to manage the trees. The lack of tree knowledge can be overcome by poultry producers working with a tree specialist, but the arrangement needs to be carefully considered to prevent conflicting interests.

Download the lessons learnt report

WP5_NL_Organic egg systems_lessons_learnt.pdf (2.1 MiB)