The UK is beginning an in-depth study on the environmental impact of various broiler and egg production systems in a project funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' LINK program, the Scottish government and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland.

As part of a multi-partner project looking at how the poultry sector can produce food while having less of an impact on the environment, researchers will be exploring possibilities such as a change in diet, animal husbandry and new technologies. “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," said Nigel Joice, vice chairman of the National Farmers' Union poultry board and member of the project steering group said. “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 modeling to look at the environmental impacts of the sector, from beginning to end, known as Lifecycle Assessment. The first stage of the project analyzed 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.

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 National Farmers' Union.