Photo: Jan Riephoff
Chickens are a fun bunch
Carsten Bauck's poultry farm
Animal welfare is non-negotiable for Carsten Bauck. On his poultry farm near the German town of Uelzen, the roosters have plenty of time to laze around.
It would be very easy for Carsten to posture himself as the benevolent farmer. A chick, barely four days old, has managed to flutter over the knee-high barrier around the covered pen. Cheeping loudly, it tries to find its way back. Carsten lets it roam. Making a big deal about capturing a stray chick is not his style. Bauck cares about the welfare of his animals, and it's plain to see.
"This is our male dormitory," he says as he opens the door to another coop. Hundreds of white-feathered roosters look out at him from inside. "Hey boys!" Bauck calls. "Is it siesta time?" He laughs. His poultry yard is part of the nationwide rooster initiative. Although male chicks have no economic value, Bauck rears the young roosters – financed by the €0.04 ethics surcharge on the sale of eggs.
The 39-year-old farmer runs the Bauckhof farm in the town of Klein Süstedt near Uelzen in Lower Saxony. He is tall and always in a hurry to get everything done. Bauck's grandfather started operating the farm according to Demeter principles in 1932. Since taking over the farm in 2002, Carsten has established a poultry business where everything is carried out on site, from breeding and feed production, to slaughtering. "Our responsibility toward the animals does not end at the door to the slaughterhouse," Bauck says gravely.
It was not always clear that Bauck would take over the farm after completing his degree in organic farming. "I had a number of interesting offers," he remarks self-confidently. "But I really felt like returning home." His parents' market gardening business was no longer viable. Bauck is a man of action, a visionary. He was attracted by the challenge of creating and owning something new.
Why poultry? Bauck pauses for a moment, as if this question had never occurred to him. "Well, you know," he finally says, "chickens are a fun bunch! I find them extremely likeable, and I love doing what I do here."