Responsibility for people, animals, and nature
Earth is something that we only borrow.We want to leave it in better condition for future generations. For us, this includes acting responsibly towards people, animals, and nature.
Animal welfare comes first
Animal welfare and animal protection are our top priority. We are aware that we kill living creatures to feed people. That’s why it’s important to us that our animals live a decent, species-appropriate life. We want to work with our farmers to advance animal welfare standards. By 2025, more than half of the animals we slaughter will come from alternative housing such as active and open stables, and organic farming. Respectful treatment of animals during transport to the slaughterhouse, stunning, and slaughter are our most important principles.
Responsibility for people
Our employees are the strongest pillar of Brand Qualitätsfleisch. They work a single shifts on a maximum of five days per week. and mMost of them have been with us for many years. They know exactly what is important tofor us inwhen it comes to dealing with animals, and in the slaughtering, and processing procedures. Our employees identify with our values.
““A company stands and falls with its workforce. Good
working conditions also mean a good working atmosphere, high-quality work, quality work and great products. If the employee is doing well,
the company is also doing well.””
Security for our farmers
We want our farmers to be able to make ana good economic lliving from their work with theraising pigs, and to developing their business in terms ofaccording to strong animal welfare principles. To this endachieve this, we are concludinghave fixed supply contracts and even default insurance with more and more of theman increasing number of our farmers, thus giving them security.
We are Duke of Berkshire
Our strong partnership is the foundation on which we have built our free range and open stable husbandry and are constantly developing it further. Together, species-appropriate, environmentally friendly. We stand for future-oriented quality.
dr Jens van Bebber, fattener / open stable
Umwelt und Klima schonen
Ein Schlachthof verbraucht sehr viele Ressourcen. Wir nutzen sie so effizient wie möglich. Unser Ziel ist es, den Ressourcenverbrauch und die Treibhausgas Emissionen entlang der gesamten Lieferkette – von der Aufzucht bis zur Ladentheke – deutlich zu senken.
Transparent sustainability in black and white
We are committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the German Sustainability Code (DNK). For 2021, wWe have reported on our sustainability according to the DNKis standard for the first time in 2021. .
FaktenCorporate Social Responsibility - Themen
- Quality management
- Hygienic concept
- Video surveillance
- Animal disease
- Organic BIO
- SDG and DNK
- Hygiene concept
- Video surveillance
- Animal Disease Hygiene
- Animal transport
- Waiting area
- Stunning with helium: Statement
- SoL controller
- Our employees
- Our farmers
- Climate protection
It has always been our philosophy to work exclusively with our own employees. Counter to the trend towards outsourced labor, we have worked exclusively with our own employees since the company was founded. 2020 was an exception to this: At the beginning of the year, we commissioned a new cutting plant and worked with contracted employees to assist for a period of a few months. As 2020 continued, we were able to fill all positions in production with our own employees again. We see it as our responsibility to take proper professional care of our employees. This applies to the area of production as well as upstream and downstream office activities. We offer our staff the opportunity to become fully involved at our company and find a professional home here. Collegial interaction for us is just as important as the professional development of individual skills.
Our production is resource-intensive in several respects, which is why we take our special responsibility towards the environment seriously. Our plant in Lohne, Germany uses extensive amounts of water and electricity to run its slaughtering and cutting operations. Our agricultural suppliers and partners require energy to raise and fatten pigs. We are aware of the responsibility of accounting for all environmental aspects in every upstream and downstream realm. This is why we are constantly optimizing our use of resources, and continually making extensive efforts to progress in all areas related to the environment.
We deal extensively with animals every day. This is of course the case in our production plant, as well as in the agriculture production where our partners raise animals. Respectful treatment of animals is always at the forefront of our work. We require our partners to treat animals correctly and with respect at all times. Any time it comes to our attention that this is not the case, even for a short period of time, it is immediately discussed with our partners. If improvement does not occur following the request for corrective action, we terminate our cooperation immediately. This has occurred in the past and will continue to happen in the future.
It is essential that we work exclusively with partners who always treat their animals respectfully and in accordance with the German Animal Welfare Act and consistent with good agricultural practice. Animal handling on our farm is subject to regular training, most notably for employees in key animal handling areas of production. All employees who work directly with the animals on our farm are sensitized to the importance of proper treatment of animals. They know that violations will not be tolerated and penalized accordingly.
As a slaughterhouse, we are not an isolated entity pursuing only our own goals. On the contrary, we are fully integrated into the value chain, from feed to finished meat products. We can only fulfill this integrative role if our partners in the value chain have the opportunity to understand and review our work. We rely on transparency to do this, and actively live this through social networks, open pricing with our business partners, and the active involvement of agriculture in the evaluation of slaughter procedures and results.
The farmers who supply us and the corresponding producer groups have access to our essential slaughter data at all times. In addition, our farmers are welcome to be present during the classification of their pigs through a window that allows a view into the so-called “white” area which shows the farmer the specific classification for each pig.
We work closely with the authorities and other institutions, maintaining continual, direct exchange with the veterinary office, the water board, and other administrative offices.
Energy management for us is a continuous improvement process. Slaughtering requires large amounts of electricity. Some technology is particularly energy-intensive, such as cooling, steam boiling, or the operation of flame ovens. Our goal is to use energy resources as sparingly and efficiently as possible.
Our operating data system which we use to monitor and analyze our energy use assists us in this process. Thanks to a number of continual adjustments, we have been able to further optimize energy consumption in recent years.
Another important part of our energy concept is our on-site heat and power plant. Fired by natural gas, it independently generates electricity and heat, and has significantly improved our energy efficiency.
We continually aim to optimize the use of water and reduce our consumption to as low of a level as possible. Considerable amounts of water are used for slaughtering. Our water comes from the groundwater reservoir and our own well. We are aware of our responsibility to use water as sparingly as possible, and the quantities we use are continuously monitored. Days with unusually high water use are immediately analyzed and kept under observation. If necessary, countermeasures are taken to stop excessive use. As with energy consumption, we see water use as an ongoing process of continuous improvement.
An important part of our water strategy is our on-site water treatment plant. Co-developed by us, it clarifies and purifies the water we use. After purification, the water has a quality equivalent to that of surface water. The resulting waste (flotation sludge) is then sold to biogas plants. We’re proud of how this waste material is always put to sensible, further use, and that we can return our used water back into the water cycle at such a high quality. The OOWV water board in our region has permanent access to our operation, and regularly checks the quality of our wastewater treatment.
Animal welfare in agriculture
We cooperate with agricultural partners to supply our animals. We are proud of our diverse range of agricultural suppliers, many of who have been operating for years or even decades. We look forward to continuing this successful cooperation in the coming years. Like us, our partners maintain a professional and respectful treatment of animals at all times.
All farms act in accordance with current laws and regulations. In many cases, the commitment of our agricultural partners goes above and beyond legal requirements, with many farmers aiming to further develop their business in various areas. We support these efforts any way we can.
Any time we become aware of incorrect animal handling, we insist that the situation is immediately corrected. If we as a slaughterhouse determine that an improvement cannot be achieved in the foreseeable future, we immediately discontinue our cooperation with the partner in question. We furthermore never hesitate to report violations of animal welfare laws to the authorities.
Animal welfare during transport
In addition to the proper keeping of animals and slaughterhouse procedures, transport is an essential area in which the correct treatment of animals must be ensured. Here we work with transport companies or directly with farmers holding proper certification and knowledge as required by law. It is important to us that forwarding companies and the farmers themselves operate exclusively with vehicles that maintain modern technical standards. When organizing deliveries, we ensure that there are no waiting times at our premises, or that they are at least reduced to a minimum. Particular attention is paid to this planning in the hot weeks of summer and cold phases of winter.
Whenever animals are not treated correctly during transport or loading, we proceed in the same way as with our agricultural partners: Incorrect behavior is addressed and stopped immediately. If it is not evident that this can be done in a timely manner, we immediately terminate the transport cooperation. If we determine that violations of the German Animal Welfare Act have occurred, we do not hesitate to report them to the authorities.
Animal welfare at slaughter
The slaughter of animals is an unquestionably sensitive area when it comes to their welfare. From delivery to bleeding out, all procedures must be organized and implemented in proper accordance with animal welfare. All colleagues working in these sensitive areas are certified for this work and receive annual training. Many of them hold years of experience in these positions. The core processes of slaughtering must always be done with respect for the animals in mind. This process is also supported by camera observation and an award-winning AI system. We continually work to ensure proper treatment of animals at all times.
Stunning with CO2
We use a Butina CO2 stunning system for our slaughtering. The stunning process begins with the animals being herded into groups of twelve, driven in mechanically or by an employee of the stunning unit. The area itself has a slight incline and is brightly lit, because pigs walk more calmly and relax when they walk up and into a bright area. Due to their social nature, it is a stressful situation for pigs to be separated from their group before stunning, which is why all steps before stunning are done in a small group.
The animals travel into an elevator system to a lower level filled with CO2 for stunning. For a short period of time (about 10-15 seconds), the pigs gasp for air and noticeably react. This phase of gasping for air is stronger or weaker depending on whether the pigs were relaxed or under duress before stunning. The exact concentration of CO2 is monitored by sensors, which allow us to ensure that exactly the right concentration is applied at all times. A CO2 concentration that is too high would lead to an overly-strong defense reaction by the pigs. A concentration that is too low would not allow for sufficient stunning. Stunning is applied for 150 seconds (120 seconds are required by law), immediately after which the stunned animals enter the bleeding process.
There continues to be no alterative form of stunning for a slaughterhouse of our size. Although another possibility would be stunning with electric forceps, the disadvantage of this is that the animals would have to be separated from their group, a stress factor we do not wish to introduce. Furthermore, when staff use forceps, possible stunning errors cannot be entirely ruled out. The use of electric shocks can also have a negative effect on the quality of the meat, which can be seen for example in blood stains on the top side of pork chops. The only time we use electric tongs is in individual cases in the waiting area or for post-stunning. The CO2 stunning technique we currently use has of course been criticized, most notably regarding the phase where pigs gasp for air. However, taking all aspects into account, we feel this is the best stunning method currently available.
Stunning with helium
Helium stunning is not a possibility for our operation because helium rises, making it unsuitable for use in our current deep-bed facilities. We believe that helium as a stunning gas can in principle represent a new alternative. Although we support any further developments that would allow us to use it, the helium systems we have seen in tests are only designed for individual animals under laboratory conditions. Current helium systems are not yet an option for us because they are either unavailable for purchase or simply do not exist for daily use. We are open at all times to further developments of the existing technology, or new technologies, and would be happy to be a part of their market introduction when the time comes.
Bleeding is another critical area of slaughter. After stunning, the animals are hung up on one hind leg to bleed out. Bleeding is initiated by stabbing the carotid artery with a hollow knife equipped with two sensors that measure the amount of blood and blood flow velocity, ensuring that the right vessel has been punctured. By accurately measuring the amount of blood, we can ensure that the animal is bled correctly and that a sufficient amount of blood is extracted. Death occurs in pigs after about 1.6 liters of blood is withdrawn. We withdraw approximately 3.2 liters of blood from each pig. Accurate sensor monitoring ensures that each pig has been bled correctly and that death has occurred before the animal enters the scalding tunnel.
After bleeding, the pigs are conveyed in a hanging position into a scalding tunnel, which is followed by further steps of slaughter. Before entering the scalding tunnel, the pigs are examined one more time using 3D technology to check each pig, with the system signaling if any unusual movements are detected. This additional check ensures once again that the pigs have been bled correctly and that death has occurred. This technology, the SoL controller (Science of Life), is highly modern and only used by a few slaughterhouses. The inventor of this system, Dr. Andreas Briese, was awarded third place in the Lower Saxony Digitalization Award competition. We’re proud that this technology was developed at our slaughterhouse (among others) and with our support.
QS (Quality and Safety) is an inspection system that spans from the farmer to the shop counter. As a slaughterhouse, we are part of this chain and participants in the QS system.
International Featured Standard Food defines uniform food and product standards on an international level. Our processes are subject to the specifications of the IFS system due to our international operations.
VLOG (Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik e.V.) certifies companies that produce GMO-free products and can credibly separate them from non-GMO products. We are proud members of the VLOG family.
This is a German organic food certification for the production of organic products and their corresponding standards. We are certified organic and meet these requirements.
Our slaughterhouse is clearly divided into hygienically clean (“white areas”) and non-sterile areas (“green area,” “green side”). The green side is the area where the live pigs are delivered. This also includes the waiting, stunning, bleeding, scalding, and scratching areas, all the way to the decontamination flame oven. A second scorching achieves low germ loads on the skin of the pigs. At this point, the carcasses are conveyed to the white area. The white area may only be entered by employees who have passed through a disinfection gateway system. In the white area, head coverings/hairnets (with integrated mouth/nose protection) are compulsory along with fresh hygienic work clothing every day. This specialized work covering has e.g. pockets on the inside, preventing objects from falling out into the products. Ideally, this clothing covers 100% of the personal clothing so that it cannot contaminate the meat. Professional cleaning companies ensure that the clothes leave no detergent residue. All of these measures and many more are summarized in our comprehensive hygienic concept that is regularly checked and updated by our QM department.
The entire slaughterhouse is under continual video surveillance. From the moment a lorry with live pigs enters the premises, to the moment a refrigerated lorry with finished cuts leaves the grounds, every step is video monitored. This is especially important in sensitive areas such as the waiting, stunning, and bleeding areas. The video material is stored for a specified period of time, allowing us to clarify any situations that may arise at a later date. We have practiced this kind of video surveillance for ten years. It furthermore complies with current European data protection regulations.
Animal disease prevention is of particular importance for our company. African swine fever is something we closely monitor for in our operation. Every day, various transport vehicles from different farms in the region come to our premises. Refrigerated vehicles that drive the commissioned goods to our customers are potential virus carriers. This is why we ensure that we fulfill all animal disease prevention requirements. Prior to the most recent outbreak of African swine fever in Germany, we established a disinfection gateway channel to disinfect every incoming vehicle. Once any vehicle is on our farm, the requirements of the German Animal Disease Ordinance are strictly adhered to. This means for example that livestock transporters leaving our farm must always be cleaned and disinfected in our truck wash. We furthermore ensure impeccable animal disease hygiene from our employees at all times.
Founded in 1930, Schlachthof Brand is closely linked to the nearby Oldenburg Münsterland region we have proudly worked with for generations. Regionality for us also means that the animals we slaughter mainly come from Lower Saxony and northern North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.
Relationships with suppliers and partners from the region are essential for our daily business. Direct, just-in-time contact with regional agriculture, suppliers, and processing partners makes it possible for example to maintain short transport times for animals. These are good for both the environment and the animals. Well over 90% of the pigs delivered to us have transport times of less than two hours. We like how this promotes our close connection to the region.
Fair pricing for partners and customers
Fairness is a core component of our corporate DNA. We believe that close, trusting cooperation with all agricultural partners is an essential prerequisite for this.
We place particularly high value on fair cooperation done at eye level. We do not adhere to common industry house prices which deviate from standard pricing. We instead allow fixed price models wherever possible, with which our agricultural partners can earn a steady and secure living from pig farming. These fixed price models are typically used at livestock farms having higher animal welfare standards.
It has always been our philosophy to work exclusively with our own employees, providing them with quality work contracts. We stand by our obligation to take proper and responsible care of our employees. We promote diversity, offering all of our staff a fair chance to be actively involved with us and find a workplace they can call their professional home. At Brand Qualitätsfleisch, collegial interaction is just as important as the professional advancement of individual skills.
Across our entire company, good work must be properly compensated. We are proud of how we exceed the applicable minimum wage with every employee.
We give every employee the opportunity to properly combine work and family life. This means for instance that we do not have shifts in the middle of the night. In addition, the health of our employees is a continual priority. We furthermore invest in their occupational pension plans.
For us, fair cooperation has priority over profit maximization. As a family business, we know how farmers work. That’s why we make fixed, long-term purchase agreements with an increasing amount of farmers to help protect them against fluctuations on the world market. This achieves planning security for all parties involved.
We offer “matter of the heart” insurance for farmers who refrain from the use of antibiotics in the event that their animals need to be treated. We support farmers who use a variety of methods to operate more sustainably in the interests of animal welfare and the environment.
All of our farming partners are united by their professional and respectful treatment of animals – regardless of whether they are kept conventionally or alternatively. In many cases, the commitment of our farmers goes beyond existing legal requirements, as they further develop animal welfare and pork products as a result. We do our utmost to support these efforts.
If we determine that animals are not being treated correctly, we demand the situation be corrected immediately. In the event of blatant or repeated violations of animal welfare, we immediately terminate our cooperation, reporting incidents to the authorities.
The proper treatment of animals must also be ensured during animal transport. We cooperate with transport companies or directly with farmers who have the respective certification and knowledge about animal transport. This is required by law. It is important to us that transport companies and the farmers work exclusively with modern vehicles that offer the animals enough space and fresh air. More than 90 percent of all pigs that are delivered to us come from the region, with transport times of less than two hours.
During delivery, we eliminate waiting times as much as possible – especially in the heat of the summer and during the cold weeks of winter.
Improper behavior by drivers is addressed immediately. In the case of it being repeated, or any other blatant animal welfare violations, we terminate the cooperation and file charges.
Water: The slaughter and processing of pigs requires extensive amounts of water. Our slaughterhouse currently uses an average of 185 liters per animal. A large part of the water is used for the daily cleaning of the slaughterhouse and its facilities (about 70,000 liters daily). The truck washing plant requires just as much water. It is part of the legal obligation of every slaughterhouse to thoroughly clean animal transport trailers after delivery to prevent the spread of disease. Large amounts of water are also needed for the slaughterhouse’s cooling condensers in the summer (up to 50,000 liters)
About three quarters of the water we use comes from our own well, the rest from the municipal water supply network. We mechanically and chemically clean the water we use before it enters the sewage system (SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation facilities).
Energy: We also use gas and electricity as resources. Our combined heat and power plant, which runs on natural gas and generates around 400 KW of electricity and 500 KW of thermal energy daily, is particularly economical in terms of consumption. We purchase electricity, and heating oil is required for the truck wash. Our vehicle fleet runs mostly on diesel.
In addition, we produce waste from slaughtering, more than 90 percent of which is recycled in a biogas plant.
Climate protection matters deeply to us. We are working to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions at our slaughterhouse in the coming years. At the same time, we are developing a CO₂ balance sheet for our company and our supply chain while, in a second step, significantly reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of our supply chain (pig farmers and feed producers). An energy management system was launched to achieve this.
After unloading, the animals are herded by an employee into waiting pens where they have the opportunity to rest for about 20 minutes. Rested and relaxed pigs are essential for the stunning process. The delivery of the pigs and the waiting area are under video surveillance around the clock.
We use a Butina CO₂ system to stun our animals. The stunning process begins by herding the animals into groups of 12. They are then driven in mechanically or by an employee of the stunning unit. The drive has a slight incline and is brightly lit. Pigs walk more calmly and relaxed when they walk up an incline into a bright area. Because of their social nature, it is a stressful situation for pigs to be separated from the group before stunning. Therefore, all steps are performed in a small group prior to stunning.
When stunning with carbon dioxide, the pigs are herded into gondolas in groups and then lowered via an elevator into a pit with a high CO₂ concentration. There, the pigs inhale the carbon dioxide, leading to a reduction in blood pH, acidification of the blood, and acidification of the cerebrospinal fluid of the central nervous system. The transmission of nerve impulses is reduced. Eventually, the animals become unconscious. Before the onset of unconsciousness, the pigs may show defensive reactions in the form of vocalizations, head shaking, and gasping. This phase of gasping for air is stronger or weaker depending on whether the pigs are relaxed or tense before stunning
The exact concentration of CO₂ is monitored via sensors. This allows us to ensure that exactly the right concentration is always applied. Too high of a CO₂ concentration would lead to a strong defensive reaction by the pigs. In turn, too low of a concentration would not sufficiently stun the animals. Stunning is applied for a duration of 150 seconds (120 seconds is required by law). The stunned animals are then immediately bled out.
For a slaughterhouse of our size, this form of stunning is currently still without an alternative. Another option, for example, would be stunning with electric forceps. The disadvantage of this is that the animals would have to be separated from the group for stunning, creating an additional stress factor. Furthermore, when employees use forceps, possible stunning errors cannot be ruled out. The use of electric tongs can also have a negative effect on the quality of the meat, which can be seen for example in blood stains on some meat products. We only use electric tongs in individual cases in the waiting area, or for post-stunning. The CO₂ stunning technique we currently use admittedly has its critics. However, taking all aspects into account, it remains the best method.
Stunning with helium: Statement
We are aware of the industry’s successful attempts to stun pigs with helium. Helium cannot be used in our current facilities because it rises as a gas, making it unsuitable for our use. We maintain an active interest in improved stunning technology, and support any form of further development. We believe that helium as a stunning gas can, in principle, provide a new alternative. However, the helium systems used in the tests we are aware of were only designed for individual animals under laboratory conditions. We are open to further developments of the existing technology or new techniques, and will be happy to support any respective market introductions.
After bleeding, the pigs are conveyed into a scalding tunnel while hanging. This is followed by further slaughtering steps. Before entering the scalding tunnel, we check the pigs one more time for any unusual movement using 3D technology. This further step ensures that death has in fact occurred, and that the pigs have been bled out correctly. This technology, also called SoL controller (Signs of Life), is state-of-the-art and is used by only a few slaughterhouses. The inventor of this device, Dr. Andreas Briese, was awarded third place as part of the Lower Saxony Digitalization Award competition. Briese developed the technology, among other things, in our slaughterhouse and with our support.
By participating in various quality management programs, we ensure that Brand produces a consistently high-quality product under the most sustainable conditions possible.
QS (quality and safety) is an inspection system from the farmer to the store counter. As a slaughterhouse, we are part of this chain and therefore also part of the QS system.
International Featured Standard Food defines uniform food and product standards on an international level. Since we also operate internationally, our processes are also subject to the specifications of the IFS Food system.
VLOG – the German Association for Foodstuffs without Genetic Engineering certifies companies that produce GMO-free products and can credibly differentiate them from non-GMO products. We participate in this program and are a proud member of the VLOG family.
All farms must be certified organic that want to produce this level of quality. We are also certified organic and meet these requirements.
SDG and DNK
We are committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the German Sustainability Code (DNK). We reported on our sustainability according to the DNK standard for the first time in 2021.
The slaughterhouse is clearly divided into hygienically clean “white” areas and unclean “green” areas. The green areas are where the live pigs are delivered: the waiting, stunning, bleeding, scalding areas, and scraping machine, to the so-called decontamination flame oven. A second flaming reduces the germ load on the skin of the pigs to a very low level. Following this, the carcasses are conveyed to the white area.
The white area may only be entered by employees who have passed through a hygienic sluice. In the white area, all employees are required to wear hair nets and, if necessary, beard coverings. In the dismantling area, so-called astronaut hoods are worn which cover the entire clothing. Our hygienic clothing is cleaned after use by a service provider. This special clothing has e.g. pockets on the inside to prevent foreign objects from entering the meat. All these measures are part of our comprehensive hygiene concept which is regularly checked and updated by our QM department.
Our slaughterhouse operates under video surveillance. From the moment a truck with live pigs enters the premises, to the moment a refrigerated truck with finished cuts leaves the facility, every step is monitored by video. This is particularly important in sensitive areas such as the waiting, stunning, and bleeding areas.
The video footage is recorded and stored for predetermined periods of time so that we can clarify issues at later points if required. We have used this video surveillance practice for more than ten years, while at the same time maintaining all current data protection regulations. Not all areas are permitted to be under video surveillance; this only applies to the areas of clear interest regarding employment, work safety, and animal welfare.
Animal Disease Hygiene
Animal disease hygiene is an important issue, and we are more than aware of our being a potential site for the spread of different swine illnesses. Every day, various transport vehicles from different farms in the region come to our premises. Likewise, refrigerated vehicles that drive goods to our customers are potential virus vectors.
We ensure that we meet all requirements in terms of animal disease prevention. Even before the outbreak of the current epidemic of African swine fever in Brandenburg and Saxony in Germany, we established a disinfection sluice to treat every incoming vehicle. Once the vehicle is on our farm, the requirements of the Animal Disease Ordinance are maintained to the fullest extent. Livestock vehicles must always be cleaned and disinfected in our washing facility before leaving. Our employees are trained in animal disease hygiene, and are regularly tested and brought up to date regarding the latest information and research.