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Battery chickens better for the environment than backyard chooks?

By johnboy - 12 August 2013 11

ANU is throwing the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons with research showing backyard chicken keeping is less sustainable than leaving it to the big boys:

Two ingredients from the humble chicken salad sandwich gave Cluster member Dr Martyn Kirk from NCEPH, an insight into how the production of food may impact our climate future.

“We compared the carbon footprints of lettuce and chicken produced by local industrial producers with that of civic producers, such as community gardens or veggie patches in backyards.”

“Civic lettuce had a carbon footprint similar to that of industrial lettuce, but industrial chicken is far better than growing chicken in backyards for meat. The main reason is that industrial chicken farms are very efficient – they have low water and land usage, and low carbon dioxide output – largely because the chickens are slaughtered early.”

“There are other things which need to be considered when looking at efficiency in food production, such as animal welfare, but from a climate change point of view, industrial produced chicken gets a thumbs up as a source of high quality protein.”

On the other hand I don’t know any backyard chicken growers who eat their chooks.

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
Battery chickens better for the environment than backyard chooks?
wildturkeycanoe 2:26 pm 12 Aug 13

I’ll take my 85gram eggs for practically no cost over the shop bought 60gram ones at over $3/dozen. Our chickens have not only paid for themselves many times over but have done wonders for my worm farm and our garden. It’ll increase our vegetable quality this season and we also have less scraps going to landfill. How on earth do they come up with this nonesense…. “academics”, yeah right.

DrKoresh 2:23 pm 12 Aug 13

That’s not to say I’m attacking people with chickens in their backyard, or veggie gardens. I just hate the wankers from The River Cottage show on the Lifestyle channel.

DrKoresh 2:21 pm 12 Aug 13

This is what I can’t stand about the River Cottage so-called “sustainable” lifestyle. There isn’t enough room on the planet for everyone to start their own farm and grow their own food. It’s the most inefficient model possible, but the subscribers feel like they’re single-handedly saving the planet.

Thumper 2:07 pm 12 Aug 13

p1 said :

arescarti42 said :

“On the other hand I don’t know any backyard chicken growers who eat their chooks.”

Precisely this. Keeping chickens for meat in suburban areas is pretty much unheard of, whilst keeping them for eggs is quite common.

Why didn’t they look at backyard eggs vs industrial eggs?

This was my immediate thought too.

What about the transport costs of the eggs from the factory to my house?

I haven’t had to buy an egg from a shop in a decade 🙂

FioBla 2:04 pm 12 Aug 13

And the McDouble is the “most bountiful food in human history”.

http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/03/21/the-most-bountiful-food-in-human-history/

IrishPete 1:31 pm 12 Aug 13

The foxes usually get them first. And fox in a henhouse mighyt have been a better metaphor to start off with. (I’m still available for hire….)

But this research seems like a classic example of “asking the wrong question”. Later on in the link,they talk about some other things like food security (not relying on one big factory, for example, but distributed production systems, a bit like solar PV on your roof).

I had a bit of a rummage around their website, but couldn’t find the research this was based on. Perhaps it was back of the envelope like those economists in the USA a while back http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22223190

IP

p1 12:15 pm 12 Aug 13

arescarti42 said :

“On the other hand I don’t know any backyard chicken growers who eat their chooks.”

Precisely this. Keeping chickens for meat in suburban areas is pretty much unheard of, whilst keeping them for eggs is quite common.

Why didn’t they look at backyard eggs vs industrial eggs?

This was my immediate thought too.

What about the transport costs of the eggs from the factory to my house?

Thumper 11:39 am 12 Aug 13

poetix said :

Industrial chicken…nice name for a band or a poetry collection. Like Clockwork Orange, but more beaky.

Angry Penguins….

arescarti42 11:31 am 12 Aug 13

“On the other hand I don’t know any backyard chicken growers who eat their chooks.”

Precisely this. Keeping chickens for meat in suburban areas is pretty much unheard of, whilst keeping them for eggs is quite common.

Why didn’t they look at backyard eggs vs industrial eggs?

sepi 11:27 am 12 Aug 13

chicken keepers already have their backyards, so measuring ‘land usage’ required for chooks is a bit pointless.

did they take into account the water usage of the lawn that would otherwise be on that space? Or the fact that backyard chooks live mainly on household scraps?

poetix 11:14 am 12 Aug 13

Industrial chicken…nice name for a band or a poetry collection. Like Clockwork Orange, but more beaky.

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