The environmental impact of different broiler and egg production systems is set to come under the spotlight in a project funded by Defra LINK, Scottish Government and DARD Northern Ireland.
As part of the next stage of the multi-partner project looking at how the poultry sector can produce food while impacting less on the environment, researchers will be exploring a wide range of possibilities such as a change in diet, animal husbandry and new technologies.
Partners in the three-year project are Newcastle, Cranfield and Nottingham Universities, Moy Park, O’Kane Poultry, Noble Foods, Aviagen, Harbro, DSM, Waitrose, the Soil Association and the NFU.
Nigel Joice, vice-chairman of the NFU poultry board and member of the project steering group, said:
“This exciting project will provide invaluable information to the industry on how it can reduce its impact on the environment, something that is of increasing importance to consumers as we strive to produce tasty, high quality affordable protein for a growing global population.
“One of the key outputs from the project will be the development of a user friendly calculation tool to allow poultry farmers to estimate their environmental impact and model how this would change with adjustments to their husbandry or system.”
The project has been using computer modelling to look at the environmental impacts of the sector, from cradle to grave, known as the Lifecycle Assessment.
The first stage of the project analysed both broiler meat and egg performance across a range of production systems.
The second stage is underway and is looking at possibilities for reducing the environmental impacts of production.
The project investigates, for example, the effect of replacing some of the imported soya in diets with home grown protein, or by increasing energy efficiency through the use of heat exchangers or other new technologies.