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Eggs with a smaller environmental footprint

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2018-02-07

The whole food movement may be right; consumption of vegan and organic food can be the best choice for reducing environmental impacts, at least if you're a chicken. A study shows that poultry given vegan organic chicken feed can help to produce "greener" eggs.

 - New research findings show that poultry given vegan organic chicken feed can help reducing environmental impacts.
© Timo Klostermeier / pixelio.de
New research findings show that poultry given vegan organic chicken feed can help reducing environmental impacts.

New research findings from University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus show that poultry given vegan organic chicken feed can help to produce eggs with a smaller environmental footprint than those fed non-organic feeds that contain animal by-products. Ecological economist Nathan Pelletier applied a cradle-to-customer environmental life cycle assessment of Canadian egg and egg product supply chains, with the aim to identify opportunities for system efficiency and environmental improvements. His study showed that relatively few variables – most notably, feed composition – contributed to differences in carbon emission production and resource demand.

“With over 1, 000 registered farms, producing more than 70 million tonnes of eggs annually, Canada’s egg industry is an excellent example of the opportunities and challenges in managing food production systems for sustainability objectives,” says Pelletier who holds both an Endowed Chair in Bio-economy Sustainability Management and the NSERC/Egg Farmers of Canada Industrial Research Chair in Sustainability at UBC Okanagan. Pelletier’s life cycle assessment of Canadian egg farms considered all of the supply chain activities – from type of feed and housing, to manure management – associated with egg production. His is a very systematic approach, which quantifies the flows of materials, energy, and emissions associated with activities all along the supply chain.

Pelletier’s findings showed that the type of feed and manure management system had the greatest influence on environmental impacts of all the variables examined. Organic feed derived from non-livestock sources, required fewer resources and had lower emissions than conventional feed.