Feeding broilers on European farms with only raw materials that are grown in Europe is a topic of discussion in some European countries such as the Netherlands. Dutch feed company Agrifirm looked at the consequences when supplying chickens with this ‘local European diet’.
Europe is not self-sufficient in protein-containing raw materials. Protein is mostly imported from the southern hemisphere, augmented by protein from the northern hemisphere in summer. Some chain parties might like the idea to have only locally grown raw materials in European animal diets. Although it might not be the right choice as this might be more expensive and can have a negative impact on technical results.
Trials with European diet
This is why Agrifirm investigated this in further detail at its Laverdonk research site in Heeswijk Dinther, the Netherlands. The trial looked at the consequences of feeding broilers using only European raw materials. During the nutritional optimisations it turned out not to be possible to achieve the optimum nutritional composition with the available range of raw materials. Not all amino acids could be supplemented to the desired level. The best alternative was then optimised and its effects were investigated on the growth and production of broilers.
Availability is complex
In the experiment, the feed profit (chicken yield value minus animal and feed costs) turned out to be around 30% lower, a reduction of €0.22. “Further optimisation could reduce the effect on the feed profit, but the effects on feed conversion and production would then still be very considerable”, Albert van der Belt, Manager of Agrifirm Innovation Centre explained. The availability of raw materials is indeed a complex issue. Peter Boudeling, Director of Procurement, Production and Logistics with Agrifirm Feed said: “Raw materials are indeed available for small products, but for substantial volumes greater protein-content production needs to be implemented.”
Become discussion partner
By conducting tests and stimulating research into the possibilities of protein crops in Europe, Agrifirm wishes to become a discussion partner for chain parties. They are searching for models to take steps towards scaling up the use of European raw materials. Ruud Tijssens, Director of Corporate Affairs at Agrifirm: “Nothing is impossible but what is certainly clear is that it will be a major challenge to develop solid earning models for this; earning models making it attractive for the industry, and our livestock farmers, to take these steps.”
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