by Levi Parsons
SYDNEY, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- An incredible amount of organic waste is generated in chicken farming, but the Australian Poultry industry has shown that it is possible to reuse and recycle this material on a large scale.
The main challenges for producers and packaging plants when it comes to being more environmentally friendly are how to dispose of byproducts such as manure, bedding material, and chicken carcass.
In Australian, these materials are all collected and used for fertilisers, pet food or even energy.
"The main byproduct from the farm would be the bedding material they were grown on mixed up with manure," Australian Chicken Meat Federation Executive Director Dr Vivien Kite told Xinhua.
"It's changed, either after each batch of chicken has gone through, or it might be taken out of the shed every couple of batches and will be collected and used as a fertiliser or a soil conditioner."
"It can be used for anything, here it's used for horticultural purposes on grapevines, on pasture, on broad-acre farming, It has potential use in any type of fertiliser application."
Despite there being no specific laws or regulations regarding how to dispose of litter, there are a number of government bodies, state departments and industry guidelines that have vast resources and advisory information pertaining to how to use the material.
"For example, with in the chicken industry in Australia, there's an industry and environmental management system about how you should manage, store and dispose of byproducts, there is also guidelines about how you should use it as well," Kite Said.
"If someone buys that material to use as fertiliser, it will state the things you should take into account when applying it."
"It will have specific details about how to match the nutrient requirements of your crop, in your soil type to the amount of litter material you use, so you don't end up using too much and polluting surface water of ground water or get excessive nutrient build up in the soil."
At the processing factory, where the chickens are slaughtered, byproducts can also be harnessed to avoid waste or needless disposal.
"If you have taken the fillets and if you've taken the meat off the carcasses, all of the frames -- the heads, the feet, everything--will end up as some form of byproduct that generally goes to the pet food or stock food industry, even the feathers can be rendered down or dried and be used for pet food," Kite said.
In some parts of Australia, the industry is experimenting with utilising chicken manure and turning it into a sustainable source of electricity.
In 2014, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs became Australia's first egg producer to generate power using poultry manure.
The business had to contend with 130 tonnes of chicken manure from 390,000 hens every week, and now they use the material to power their farm.
"We used to stockpile the manure and sell it to neighbouring farmers who spread it on their cultivation," Darling Downs Fresh Eggs chief executive officer Geoff Sondergeld said.
"But we didn't get much for it and the family is conscious of its environmental footprint, so we decided to look for alternatives."
Using a method called Anaerobic digestion, the farm is able to convert the methane and carbon dioxide from the manure and convert it into electricity by decomposing the biomass of the manure using microorganisms.
"We'll save in excess of a quarter of a million dollars in year one and there's a whole host of other operating benefits," Sondergeld said.
"We'll abate over 6, 000 tonnes of equivalent greenhouse gases, so we'll essentially be an environmentally sustainable business and that was fundamental to our business values and the family's values."