Roosters raised for fighting are treated like royalty
The largest poultry producer in the Middle East, and among the top 40 in the world is Al-Watania Poultry. The company began in 1977 in Qassim, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The complex now extends to 200 hectares where the company produces 150 million birds and more than 350 million eggs a year. All of its flock receive natural food and are processed in strict compliance with Islamic Law.
Consumption of Chicken on the Rise
By 2020, poultry is expected to overtake pork as the most consumed meat on the planet. Per capita consumption has doubled since 1990. It is easy to see why: Chicken is cheaper than other meats, and its price advantage is increasing. Chicken does not suffer from cultural or religious stigmas the way that pork and beef do in some parts of the world. Chicken is easy to prepare and is uniformly tender. It´s mild taste allows it to be integrated into practically any cuisine, and chicken is also available as a prepared or semi-prepared meal in many markets.
Chickens: Long Domesticated but Rarely Eaten
Chickens are descended from birds found in the wild in India and eastern Asia, and seem to have been kept by humans for at least 9000 years, making them one of the earliest domesticated animals and possibly the earliest domesticated fowl. They arrived in the Middle East perhaps 4000 years ago and in Europe much later. Wherever early evidence of domesticated chickens has been found, there is very little indication that they were part of the diet. Instead, until recently, chickens were kept for cockfighting and egg production. It wasn’t until well into the twentieth century that commercial chicken production became an important industry.
In the ancient world, from China to India to Greece and Rome and Iron Age Britain, pottery, mosaics and writings have been found describing chickens being kept as fighting birds, but not for food. Artificial spurs have been found in many sites, and the remains of the birds found tend to be disproportionately roosters. Ancient cockfighting arenas have been found scattered all over the world.
Chickens were natural targets for domestication because of their docile, social nature and the fact that they don’t fly very well. They also were willing to eat leftovers from the family meals, seeds, fruits and insects, making them easy to raise. Chickens had the good luck to be domesticated by people who were far flung traders, so they came to be found in Mesopotamia, the Middle East and Egypt 4000 years ago. The Egyptians eventually invented centers for artificial incubation and consumed their eggs, but only the Romans ate chicken on a relatively modest scale. However, once the Roman Empire collapsed, chicken consumption virtually disappeared and for the next 1600 years people in the Old World preferred larger, more robust birds like turkeys, ducks and geese.
Roosters appear rather infrequently in our classical literature, and hens even less. Perhaps the best known reference in Western traditions is the passage from three of the Gospels where Jesus tells Peter that the rooster will not crow until you have denied three times that you know Me. Many weather vanes today have roosters on them as the result of a decree from the Pope that roosters should be placed on all church steeples to remind the faithful of the incident.
From Fighting Bird to Main Course
Commercial chicken farming is a product of the twentieth century. For the first part of the century, most chicken consumed came from family farms, and the majority of people who ate chicken produced it themselves. The bird was much smaller then, weighing only one fourth of what it weighs today. It also took twice as long to reach maturity and took twice as much feed to produce the same amount of meat. But selective breeding, better nutrition and other advances in chicken husbandry have meant that chicken is now the cheapest source of animal protein available to most people in the world.
Al-Watania Supplies Saudi Arabia and Beyond with Fresh Meat and Eggs
The production facilities at Al-Watania are self contained and large enough to form its own village, with housing, mosques, restaurants, a water system, electrical grid, medical center and communication networks. Al-Watania Poultry has a fleet of 1,500 refrigerated trucks which carry eggs and chicken products to all corners of the Kingdom and abroad. There is a feed mill with a production capacity of 1,800 tons a day, a fertilizer plant with a production capacity (70) tons per day, and nearly 100 megawatts of power generation, along with numerous backup systems.
Al-Watania is committed to using the latest technology and management techniques in order to produce quality poultry and eggs. This commitment to quality and to managing a totally modern facility shows in its acquisition of ISO 9001 certification, SQF 2000 certification, and HACCP certification.
Al-Watania is also proud to be part of a bigger plan to help make Saudi Arabia self sufficient in food production and provide skilled employment for all Saudis. The company works closely with the Ministry of Labor to foster stable employment conditions and to create an environment that will attract the best talent from the country. In particular, Al-Watania is making great strides towards closing the employment gap for women in the country.
Doing Good While Doing Well -- A Commitment to the Community
What Al-Watania has achieved in terms of food production, constant quality improvement, promotion of job safety and security, ethical treatment of its flocks, and compliance with Islamic Law is remarkable, but it tells only part of the story of Al-Watania. The company has also made a solemn commitment since its founding not only to do well but also to do good, and engages in charitable and educational work in the community.
Ensuring that its products are Sharia compliant, which is a more expensive and labor intensive method of slaughtering, shows respect and responsibility towards the society it serves.
The company makes a concerted effort to provide jobs and assistance for workers from low income households and for the needy. It also specifically recruits disabled workers and makes accommodations for them. In order to provide the best employee support possible, the company also manages a kindergarten, sponsors sporting events, awards prizes for scientific and cultural achievement, give language instruction, operates a health club, and has founded a library.
The company operates a charitable endowment with a portion of profits dedicated to improving community outreach programs as well as investing in organic growth which creates more jobs. Among the programs it supports are social welfare, education, health awareness, and youth activities.
Within the community at large, Al-Watania has dedicated resources to reduce traffic accidents, smoking and drug use, has sponsored blood drives, helped with reducing energy and water waste, distributed meals to the needy and provided direct assistance to disabled children.
Higher Education and Quality also on the Menu
Special mention should be made of the Al-Watania Poultry Institute, an institution of higher learning where students receive training and have employment opportunities made available to them. The education is free of charge and the trainee is also paid a salary during the period of his training. Meals and housing are provided and the Institute works closely with other institutions of higher learning. Students get to work alongside professionals in the field by conducting original research on quality, production, safety, hygiene and profitability issues in the poultry industry.
Quality habits in business must be learned, and the Institute instills those habits early on by insisting that professors and students adhere to a quality policy from the day they enter. The quality assurance system constantly evaluates and monitors the quality of education at the Institute in the same way that the company does at the production facility. Working with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation of the Saudi government as a strategic partner, the Institute complies with the Saudi Skills Standards as a College of Excellence. The Institute has also taken advantage of its relationships with COBB, CINOP and Wall Street English in order to deliver the highest quality education possible to its students. And just like Al-Watania, the Institute is ISO 9001 Certified, a great achievement for an educational institution.
Quality in poultry production. Quality in Community Involvement. Quality in Education. All in a day’s work at Al-Watania.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Al-Watania Saudi Arabia Chicken Producer has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.