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Sustainability analysis of broiler production systems: from theory to practice - Lotte Kroeze

Currently, in the Netherlands, the largest part of broiler chickens is housed in traditional floor systems. Due to an increased demand for more sustainable production methods, alternative systems (within the conventional segment) are developed. To compare traditional and alternative production systems, a sustainability analysis was performed. In this sustainability analysis, economic, environmental, and social aspects were further divided into issues of concern and these were quantified.

Currently, in the Netherlands, about 97% of the broiler chickens kept for meat production is housed in conventional production systems. The largest part of these broiler chickens is housed in traditional floor systems. Due to an increased demand for more sustainable production methods, alternative systems (within the conventional segment) are developed. To compare traditional and alternative production systems, a sustainability analysis can be performed. In this sustainability analysis, economic, environmental, and social aspects are further divided into issues of concern. These issues are quantified by use of indicators. Issues related to broiler production and associated indicators are identified by a literature review.
This review concluded that issues within the three aspects (economic, environmental, and social) can be contradictory, and consequently, indicators related to these issues are also conflicting. The broiler chicken genetic strain is one cause of this contradiction, but is also a major point of improvement for a better overall sustainability performance. Improving genetic adaptability, by including all three sustainability aspects in breeding goals, could possibly result in better production performances (i.e., economic and environmental efficiency), and increased animal welfare. After finalizing the literature review, issues and indicators that are most often notified in scientific literature, and, additionally, meet required selection criteria, are included in a framework. This framework is intended to be a theory-based, but practical-oriented model, which can function as base for the sustainability assessment of different broiler production systems.

In order to verify the framework in terms of practicability and sustainability validation, an expert survey is performed. The experts conclude the framework is complete and sufficient with regard to the sustainability aspects. The indicators included are appropriate in terms of practical applicability. The added value of the framework depends on the target for which it is intended and the context within which it will be used. In order to make the framework more relevant in comparing production systems, first, required data needs to be gathered, and, thereafter, applying benchmarking could be an appropriate method for comparisons. Benchmarking options need to be further investigated.


Student: AM Kroeze

Supervisor: dr ir E Bokkers

36 Ects