Land use efficiency is defined as the ratio between the human digestible protein (HDP) that potentially could be produced by direct crop production for humans, and the HDP from animal source food (fed with feed crops on those fields). In this study we applied the land use ratio (LUR) method to broiler production (conventional and slow growing broiler production).
The LUR method assesses the competition between human food and animal feed. Land use efficiency is defined as the ratio between the human digestible protein (HDP) that potentially could be produced by direct crop production for humans, and the HDP from animal source food (fed with feed crops on those fields). When the LUR is above 1 the cultivation of human food crops results in more HDP than livestock production. The LUR was assessed by a four step approach, the first step is to assess how much animal feed is needed to produce broiler meat including parent stock. Furthermore what kind of feed ingredients are used (feed composition) and in which countries those ingredients are cultivated. The second step is to determine if those agricultural lands used to cultivate broiler feed ingredients are suited to cultivate human food crops. The third step is to quantify the yield of these human food crops in the specific countries and the maximum HDP and HDE that could be produced instead of animal feed. The fourth step is the calculation of the LUR. Broilers have a lower feed conversion ratio (FCR) than ruminants, but their diets contain a larger fraction of human digestible ingredients. Our results show that broiler meat is not a land use efficient way to produce protein, as the LUR is above 1. We compared the LUR of broilers with dairy- and laying hen production systems. The LURprotein are above 1 for the slow growing broiler production system (2.65), conventional broiler production system (2.38), laying hens (2.08) and dairy cows on sand (2.1). Only dairy cows on peat soil (0.67) are more efficient than human food crops in producing protein, as the LUR is below 1. Dairy cows on peat show that livestock fed from grasslands which are not suited for human crop production can play an important role in sustainable food production.
Student: N Dullaart
Supervisors: dr ir E Mollenhorst
ir H van Zanten