PLUKON FOOD GROUP has entered an agreement in principle to buy a controlling stake in German hatchery business Optibrut.

The firm said that early feeding – where chicks are offered access to food and water soon after hatching – played a significant part in the decision to invest in the hatchery.

See also: Plukon to buy Dutch foodservice poultry supplier

“Plukon expects early nutrition to become the standard in the Netherlands and Germany in the coming years. With the takeover of Optibrut, a major step has been taken towards achieving this goal,” a statement said.

“Optibrut already has good experience with an integrated approach to rearing parents, breeding farms under its own management and under the direction of delivery of day-old chicks with early nutrition to broiler farmers.”

Plukon is one of the largest poultry processors in Europe, serving markets from 18 sites across the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Poland. It processes eight million birds a week.

Last month, the firm announced it would acquire the Dutch poultry foodservice specialist Cuparius Food Group.

Plukon said this latest acquisition, which would see the firm take a 51% stake in the hatchery business, would help it improve the quality of its chicken supply chain.

Optibrut was built in 2017 and has worked with Plukon since it became operational. It supplies day-old chicks mainly into Dutch and German farms – both Plukon suppliers and third parties.

The current shareholders will continue to lead the joint venture, the company added.