Project Presentation

The ever-increasing consumer demand for healthier poultry products derived from more compatible with hen welfare and environmentally friendly farming systems has contributed to the intensification of research into the efficacious application of free-range poultry farming. At the same time, the use of certain antibiotics and other antimicrobial substances in animal feed has already been banned in EU countries due to the possible development of resistance to them and their transfer to humans through the food chain (EU Regulation, 1998).


The properties and use of aromatic plants by humans have been known since ancient times. Today, their use has also been extended to feeding animals in order to take advantage of their various beneficial properties. Many aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, tea etc. or extracts of these herbs, are attracting a lot of research interest for their antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Compared to synthetic antibiotics, aromatic plants are considered to be more "natural", less toxic, free of residues and ideal feed additives for animal husbandry.


The use of free-range poultry production has been increasing in recent years due to consumer demand for more "natural" products, derived from birds living in better conditions. But some products labeled "free range" or "organic" may come from poultry that have never seen natural light or green grass in their lives. Therefore, it is necessary to have objective biochemical indicators of the term "free-range poultry" in order to protect consumers.

Objective of the project

The object of the project was to find Innovative "Tracers" based on New Indicators for the Definition of "Free Range" Systems. The aim was achieved by finding quantitative biochemical markers in poultry serum and muscle tissue that would differentiate the "free range" from the conventional. The research followed the investigation of the herb-enriched nutritional environment effect on the free-range hen antioxidant status levels and subsequently on the yields, carcass quality, and organoleptic characteristics, but also some biochemical and immunochemical parameters of the blood serum of the chickens.

Objectives of the research

a) development of methods, mechanisms and tools for verifying the authenticity of free-range chickens and protecting consumers from fraud or adulteration of high-added food, as well as

b) design of an innovative nutritional method of chicken breeding, unique at the national level, leading to an increase in domestic added value and the production of high-value end products with significant export importance.


Of the Development Project

The Biochemistry Laboratory, in collaboration with the Research Laboratory of Peptide Chemistry of the University of Ioannina, the Immunology Laboratory of the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, and the APSI "PINDOS", are the project organizers. Read more about the partner's contribution to the project at the following link.

Ioannina Agricultural Poultry Cooperative «PINDOS»


Hellenic Pasteur Institute



Expected Results

The main objective of this specific project is the following nine expected results.

  • 01

    Creation of an internationally recognizable brand, a "Free Range" Quality Seal, which is expected to help the Greek poultry farming extroversion.

  • 02

    Identity creation & vesting, which will contribute to the promotion & projection of the products both within the country and internationally. Local products are a considerable part of Greek production, which as "unknown", remains essentially unexploited.

  • 03

    Filing applications for patents & industrial designs, in case the research is successful with the ultimate goal of commercial profit and the protection of new knowledge.

  • 04

    Patenting of objectively Pioneering "Tracers" of quality based on New Indicators for the Definition of "Free Range" Systems - P.I.N.D.O.S. (biochemical indicators, antioxidant status analysis).

  • 05

    Study of the correlation of different classes of circulating autoantibodies with the living conditions of chickens, which could be used for the systematic control of the chicken quality. Among the developed immunoassays, the optimal one will be determined and commercialized.

  • 06

    Development of a test for the detection and quantification of a peptide indicator in the muscle extract of chickens for examining the meat quality marketed to the consumer.

  • 07

    Evaluation of the potential adjuvant effect of different rearing methods in poultry, which will result in the extraction of new knowledge and the highlighting of possible benefits/risks for human health, but also the effects along the food chain. The change in NAbs (natural antibodies) levels between free-range and non-range chickens will be studied for the first time internationally, while the research will be leveraged to use NAbs as biomarkers.

  • 08

    Standardization and institutionalization of an official quality control method for "Free Range" poultry products, with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers from adulterated or inferior quality products.

  • 09

    Exploitation of the Greek soil richness in aromatic plants while improving animal health. This may result in better poultry products' quality and safety for the consumer benefit and reduced production costs due to the abundance of raw materials.

Financial & commercial utilization of the results

The commercial utilization and exploitation of the present research results bring financial benefit to the researchers and the organizations/partners that are the "final users" of the results. On a long-term level, it contributes to the broader financial and social development of the Epirus Region, the creation of new jobs and professional opportunities, and the improvement of the quality of life. Commercial exploitation by partners can be done in one or more ways simultaneously, such as:

The patenting of the project results in Greece and Europe
by the research team in collaboration with A.P.S.I. "PINDOS" cooperative. "PINDOS" aims at the financial utilization of research results in the domestic market and the acquisition of a significant share in the European market.

The reservation of the rights and licenses using the new knowledge
against financial exchanges to third parties. The results' utilization could also be achieved through the collaboration of the research group and the A.P.S.I. "PINDOS" cooperative with European food industries.

The production and sale of new products
will arise from the industrial partner implementing the research and the 462 poultry farmers - cooperative members.

The internationally increased brand name "PINDOS"
and participated research partners' recognition.

Increasing gained knowledge about aromatic plants
and their use in poultry farming. This will lead to meeting the needs of the breeding units for animal feed, which will be produced in Greece, reducing imports and, consequently, the cost of producing animal feed.

The cooperative relationship development
between the project partners will exceed the time of its implementation with economic multiplier benefits for all.

The technology transfer
through technical cooperation contracts for the prototype applications of research results in industries or other end-users.

The new innovative immunological and biomarkers test
will be available to the food industry to test the chicken's meat quality.

The improvement of animal production
in less developed areas, such as Epirus. Achieving the goals of innovative products with unique and distinct high-added value products is required for the viability of Greek poultry enterprises and their competitive advantage.

Through the exploitation of research results,
the coming out benefit from research and development activities for the society and economy of a country is maximized. Hence the investment in research is returning to the market and society.