CENTRAL Queensland University researchers are helping the poultry industry go green.
Australia's $4 billion chicken industry produces 700 million birds annually, while Australians consume about 43kg of chicken meat per head annually, and this trend is increasing.
However, while the demand for poultry meat grows, farmers face growth of another type - waste.
Tanka Prasai, a veterinarian from Nepal and postgraduate researcher at CQUniversity, has been working with industry partners for the past six months with promising results.
He has found ways to manage the loss of ammonia and phosphorus, and to increase bird growth rate and gain in meat yield of the treated birds.
Postgraduate supervisor Dr Surya Bhattarai said Tanka had looked at feed additives, litter additives, smart composting and high quality granulation of poultry litter.
"His research already shows promising results from the feed additives such as biochar, zeolite and benetenoite in trapping ammonia and phosphorus," he said.
"He is also producing benefits for bird growth and weight gains, by as much as 11% compared to the control feed.
"The birds feeding on feed additives such as biochar are considered 'double green', on the premise that these additives minimise loss of ammonia and ammonium from poultry litters which otherwise cause environmental problems."
Dr Bhattarai said the current carbon footprint of the poultry industry in Australia was equivalent to annual emissions of 666 kilotons.
"If biochar is added to the feed at 4% by the entire industry, 84 kilotons of biochar will be amended in the litter that will potentially be responsible for trapping about 252 ton of carbon dioxide equivalent if applied to the farming," he said.
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