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The case of the Kempen Sheep chain development


October 2006, by Loek Hilgers, Jan van den Broek, Wim de Jong, Marjon Krol (ZLTO; Southern Farmers Union)




A few farmers/entrepreneurs in the Province of Brabant, the Netherlands, involved with the Kempen Sheep, have got acquainted with the South Downs initiative of marketing lamb as a regional product and with an added value. Inspired by this initiative they formed the group ‘Kempen Sheep‘: Loek Hilgers, president of the Kempen Sheep Herd book, Jan van den Broek, organic sheep farmer and president of the Kempen – Meierij Cooperative of organic producers and Wim de Jong, employee of Brabant Landscape.


The Kempen Sheep has been grazing Brabant moors since ages. In fact, the characteristic landscape of the Province of Brabant, with fields near the farms and villages and vast moors on poor sandy soils in between, has its origin in the grazing activities of the Kempen Sheep. As such, the Kempen Sheep can be considered as a symbol for the historic development of farming and creating the landscape in Brabant.


At this moment the Kempen Sheep is kept in a very modest number of a few thousands of sheep and is used in a very limited way in grazing the moors. The sheep are sold as conventional lamb meat. From the point of view of social history, the conservation of this rare breed and an efficient maintenance of the moors, it is desirable to increase the grazing activities of the Kempen Sheep.


The Kempen Sheep group sees opportunities to carry out these plans by the creation of a strong economic basis through the development of the Kempen Sheep as a ’regional product’. A considerable added value can be created by linking up with important consumer trends of this moment like the experience economy, Slow Food, organic quality, authenticity and the regional origin of products.


To achieve this, a number of conditions have to be met:

  • Professional grazing management of moors in which two goals are met: o The achievement of nature management targets and the re-establishment of the traditional relation between moors and fields. o The achievement of a perfect product quality, that fulfils the specific demands of Slow Food and organic production.
  • Good marketing in which values as Slow Food, organic quality, social history and regional origin are used in a perfect blend.
  • A good organisation of the chain for production and marketing.

A comprehensive Action Plan is being prepared which lists all the actions needed to meet these conditions and to achieve the objective of this project. This Action Plan should be ready by the end of November 2006. This paper presents a summary of this Plan.


Objective of the project

Strengthening the local countryside economy by the marketing of meat products of the Kempen Sheep with an added value.



By the end of 2007 a number of 100 lambs should be produced and sold as a regional product with added value; by the end of 2009 this number should have increased to 500 lambs.


Methods used

Two main routes are distinguished which at their turn are subdivided in different activities:

1. Management of nature areas and experience

  • Management: in the grazing management of the moors the management objective has to be combined with the production objective of achieving a perfect quality of lamb.
  • Experience: for a perfect experience the Kempen Sheep has to become visible and tangible again in his social historical function of grazing the moors. Many different activities can be organised for visitors and tourists like a lamb days in spring, guided excursions, sheep shaving etc.

2. Chain management
This includes the organisation of the production chain from production (meat quality), slaughter, product development and packing to marketing and sales. A good organisation of the chain and a good plan for marketing are indispensable. The next activities will be paid much attention to in the Action Plan:

  • Production and processing
  • Marketing
  • Chain management

In the first year (2007) the feasibility of the initiative will be studied and tested and the most important elements of a business plan will be carried out. At the same time, implementation is started by raising a small pilot group of approximately 60 Kempen Sheep according to the conditions of the Kempen Sheep®. At the end of the first year a number of approximately 100 sheep should be ready for slaughter. At the same time a small pilot group of outlets (for example butchers, organic shops) will be formed to participate in product development, marketing and finally of course in selling the products. The experiences of this pilot group will be directly included in the total business plan.


Scheme of the Kempen Sheep Chain




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