Revolutionizing Poultry Farming through Sustainable Nutrition

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To address the challenges of modern poultry farming, SUSTAvianFEED project aims to demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable animal feeding. By developing a nutritional formula for poultry farming that incorporates insects and utilizes regional agri-food sector by-products, this initiative seeks to revolutionize the industry and promote sustainable practices.

With objectives ranging from reducing environmental impact to promoting local economies and empowering women, SUSTAvianFEED is set to transform the poultry sector in Mediterranean countries. In this article, starting from the activities that have unfolded under the project in the last period, we explore the project’s objectives, progress, and potential impacts on the future of poultry farming.

Objective 1: Sustainable Nutritional Formula Development

The primary objective of SUSTAvianFEED is to develop a sustainable nutritional formula for poultry farming by substituting high-impact protein sources like soybean and fishmeal with regional agri-food sector by-products. By following circular economy principles, the project aims to reduce environmental impact and improve sustainability. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) techniques are being utilized to determine the sustainability improvements achieved by the project’s approach. Through the use of insects and alternative ingredients, the project has already shown promising results in reducing environmental impact by up to 50% compared to conventional diets.

In addition, the work carried out, not only represents the development of specific diets for pilot activities, but a methodology to be applied and implemented in different contexts for the development of sustainable feeding programs.

Objective 2: Environmental Impact Reduction and Quality Products

SUSTAvianFEED also focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the poultry sector while ensuring the production of quality, safe, and affordable products. Through the development of sustainable diets, the project aims to offer an alternative to intensive poultry farming, thereby ensuring secure and sustainable food for the growing population. Preliminary results have demonstrated the potential to reduce imported ingredients such as soybean meal without compromising egg production or quality. Additionally, the inclusion of dehydrated insect larvae in the diets aligns with the natural behavior of hens, improving the quality of the products. The project’s sensorial analysis has also shown positive consumer acceptance.

Objective 3: Local Economy and Socioeconomic Growth

SUSTAvianFEED emphasizes promoting local economies, socioeconomic growth, and the resilience of Mediterranean areas. By selecting local or adapted chicken breeds, the project aims to generate subsidiary incomes and maximize the commercialization of local products. This objective particularly supports small-scale farming and marginalized sectors, contributing to the productivity and sustainability of small-scale poultry farms. The project’s pilot activities, including those in Tunisia, Turkey, Spain, and Italy, engage a significant number of smallholders and focus on long-term sustainability and replication potential. The evaluation of these activities will provide more specific results in terms of social, environmental, and economic impacts.

All the project pilot activities include local or adapted breed in the pilot activities as shown below:

  • Spain: 120 ISAZUL breed, form the Andalusian breed.
  • Italy: 144 male chicks of Bianca di Saluzzo
  • Turkey: ANADOLU-T.
  • Tunisia: Autochthonous Tunisian14 (ecotype) and Geant GĂ©noise.
Isazul. Bianca di SaluzzoAnadolu-T

Objective 4: Feasibility in Real Poultry Farming Contexts

To demonstrate the feasibility and suitability of the alternative nutritional formula, SUSTAvianFEED has implemented five pilots across four Mediterranean countries. The pilots conducted in Spain, Italy, and Turkey have successfully implemented the sustainable nutritional formula for egg and meat production. The upcoming pilots in Tunisia will further validate the predefined sustainable diet. Each pilot activity will undergo social, environmental, and economic analysis to assess its effectiveness and potential impact.

Objective 5: Animal Health and Welfare

Improving animal health and welfare is a crucial aspect of SUSTAvianFEED. By feeding birds with insects, their natural behavior and gut health are enhanced, reducing the need for medicated feeds and combating antibiotic resistance. The project is following animal health and welfare criteria in terms of space and other conditions. The evaluation of the inclusion of insects in the diets will provide more insights into the improvements achieved in this regard. Preliminary results of project activities show potential to address an improvement in animal health and welfare due to the inclusion of live and dried larvae in the diets in accordance to larvae consumption time in comparison with standard diet, tonic immobility, blood analyses or behavioral observation aspects, among others.

Objective 6: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

SUSTAvianFEED places great importance on promoting gender equality and empowering women. The project actively engages rural women in pilot activities to develop sustainable business models that support their socioeconomic growth. By providing training, guidelines, and empowerment opportunities, SUSTAvianFEED aims to maximize the impact of its activities and foster the replication of successful models in similar contexts.

Before the pilot starts more than 30 rural women have been already engaged in different workshop and interviews. More than 80 rural women will be directly engaged during pilot activities in the Tunisian region of Jendouba.

Objective 7: Multi-Actor Approach and Co-Creation

A key aspect of SUSTAvianFEED is the adoption of a multi-actor approach that involves relevant stakeholders across the entire poultry supply chain. Through Living Labs activities, stakeholders from different stages of the value chain participate in a co-creation process. This approach ensures that the project’s outcomes are aligned with the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders involved.

Until now, 329 people have been already involved, being smallholders, producers, and consumers, the main type of stakeholders engaged.

The SUSTAvianFEED project represents a significant step forward in transforming poultry farming through sustainable nutrition. With its focus on developing a nutritional formula utilizing insects and regional agri-food by-products, the project aims to reduce environmental impact, promote local economies, enhance animal health and welfare, and empower women in the industry. As the project progresses, its comprehensive evaluation of social, environmental, and economic impacts will provide valuable insights into the feasibility and potential replication of its innovative approaches. SUSTAvianFEED is poised to shape the future of poultry farming, offering a sustainable and secure food supply while fostering the well-being of communities and the environment.

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