Exploring broiler production systems that address multiple externalities

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Intensive livestock production is associated with adverse effects on animal welfare (AW), the environment and human health, defined as negative externalities. These externalities have led to increasing calls for more sustainable livestock production, including more sustainable broiler production, by European Union citizens. The overall objective of this dissertation was to explore broiler production systems that address multiple externalities and are aligned with farmers’ preferences. A conceptual framework was developed to assess the implementation of standards in a context of multiple negative externalities resulting from meat production. The framework demonstrated that synergies between externalities enhance the economic feasibility of more stringent standards, whereas trade-offs hamper the economic feasibility of these standards. AW improvements in broiler production may yield a synergy on antibiotic use and do not necessarily yield a trade-off on ammonia (NH3) emissions. Most AW improvements caused a trade-off on particulate matter (PM10) emissions. The findings suggest that there is a scope for designing optimal broiler production systems by selecting system changes based on their impact on farm income, AW, NH3 and PM10 emissions. Different combinations of system changes were assessed in terms of their potential for enhancing AW and mitigating emissions of NH3 and PM10. The prevailing system in the Dutch broiler market was used as a baseline for evaluating these system changes. The results indicated that a considerable improvement in AW and considerable reductions in NH3 emissions (66-73%) and PM10 emissions (41-61%) can be achieved in this system at a limited increase in the producer price (5-19%). The best performing combinations of system changes included AW-enhancing practices, a NH3 abatement technique and a PM10 abatement technique. These combinations were also robust to changes in the relative importance society places in AW, PM10 emissions and NH3 emissions. Results of a discrete choice experiment indicated that farmers were in general reluctant to invest in PM10 abatement techniques. Farmers’ preferences for PM10 abatement techniques were critically determined by the attributes technique, exemption from future PM10 emission legislation and subsidy. A high heterogeneity in farmers’ preferences was observed, which could be explained by social factors (e.g. age of the farmer) and perceived obstacles for business development (e.g. location of the farm). Overall, this dissertation underlined that the development of new broiler production systems should focus on an integrated approach that takes the optimization of synergies trade-offs between externalities into account

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Oude Lansink, Alfons, Promotor
  • Saatkamp, Helmut, Co-promotor
Award date24 Jan 2022
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463954938
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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