On the Radio: Environmental impacts of egg production


Free-range broiler breeder chickens outside on grass (Compassion in World Farming / Flickr).
Free-range broiler breeder chickens outside on grass (Compassion in World Farming / Flickr).
May 12, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at an Iowa State University study on the environmental impact of different practices used in egg production. The study is especially salient now, as farmers and operators across the Midwest scramble to contain the avian influenza epidemic. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Researchers at Iowa State University are studying the environmental impact of different practices used in egg production.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The study looked at two alternatives to the conventional egg production model which involves placing six laying hens in a single cage. One alternative – the “enriched colony system” – places roughly 60 birds in a large enclosure and provides them with access to perches, nest boxes and scratch pads. The second alternative model – known as an “aviary” – allows hundreds of birds to roam freely in a large space for much of the day.

The study found that these methods contribute to poorer air quality and increased ammonia levels in the area. Additionally, the larger roaming areas mean that the birds require more feed and therefore leads to an increase in carbon emissions associated with feed production. Despite the environmental concerns, these methods are seen as better for the welfare of the animals.

The findings were published in March’s issue of the journal Poultry Science. The researchers will now shift their focus to other topics such as economics, hen physiology and welfare.

For more information on this study, visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2015/03/12/eggindustry2015

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