Economic, ecological, and social performance of conventional and organic broiler production in the Netherlands.

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Abstract

. In this study, we compared a conventional broiler production system keeping fast growing broilers with an organic broiler production system keeping slow growing broilers in the Netherlands, both managed by one person working a full time year (Full Time Equivalent, FTE). This comparison was based on a quantification of economic, ecological and social indicators. Indicators were quantified using scientific literature and national data sets. 2. The organic system performed better for the economic indicator net farm income per FTE than the conventional system. 3. Regarding ecological indicators, calculations showed a higher on-farm emission of ammonia per kg live weight for the organic system. Moreover, an organic system includes a higher risk for eutrophication per ha due to outdoor access. Emission of green house gasses, use of fossil fuels and use of land required for the production of one kg of live weight is higher for an organic than for a conventional system. This is mainly due to a lower feed conversion in organic production and use of organic feed. 4. The organic system performed better than the conventional system for the social indicators related to animal welfare time spent on walking, footpad lesions, mortality, and sound legs. Regarding the social indicator food safety was found that meat from an organic system contained less antibiotic residues and Salmonella contaminations but more Campylobacter contaminations than meat from a conventional system. 5. Changing from a conventional to an organic broiler production system, therefore, not only affects animal welfare, but also affects economic, ecological and other social issues. In this study, we ran into the situation that some information needed was lacking in literature and quantifications had to be based upon several sources. Therefore, an integrated on-farm assessment is needed, which can be used to develop a broiler production system that is economically profitable, ecologically sound, and acceptable for society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-557
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • egg-production systems
  • foot-pad dermatitis
  • leg weakness
  • sustainability indicators
  • environmental-impact
  • respiratory symptoms
  • livestock buildings
  • sensory attributes
  • animal production
  • walking ability

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