The environmental impacts of 2 alternative UK broiler production systems that aim to improve bird welfare (a lower stocking density indoor system and the same system combined with heat exchangers for ventilation air) were compared with the baseline standard indoor system of broiler production. Furthermore, the environmental impacts of egg production in the conventional battery cage system (banned in the European Union in 2012) and its replacement, the enriched colony cage system, were compared. All comparisons were based on data obtained from the UK poultry industry, and the life cycle assessment method from cradle to farm gate was applied in the analyses. The results show that the lower density system slightly increased the global warming potential (GWP) of broiler production (by 2%), compared with the standard indoor system, due to increased heating requirements. However, when combined with the heat exchanger, the GWP was actually reduced by 3% when compared with the standard system. Both alternative systems for broilers resulted in a reduction in the eutrophication potential (by up to 8%) and acidification potential (by up to 10%). The results also showed that the colony cage system had 8% lower primary energy use and 3% lower GWP than the baseline cage system, due to better energy use efficiency and slightly improved productivity. There were only minor differences in the eutrophication and acidification potentials between different egg production systems. The results suggest that welfare-friendly changes in chicken systems can be achieved without a compromise in their environmental impacts.
- Environmental impact
- Life cycle assessment