Wednesday, January 03, 2018
new environmental guidelines being developed for Australia's egg industry
Australian Eggs Ltd is preparing new environmental guidelines for the egg industry However the new guidelines for free range operations probably won't be any improvement on the old ones published in 2008.The industry is dominated by corporate players who don't accept that free range is a niche market with small-scale production. Corporate egg producers want to maximise returns by running at least 10,000 hens per hectare, when the maximum sustainable density is 1500 per hectare.Each hen produces half a cubic metre of manure per year - so at a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare, a colossal 5000 cubic metres of manure is dumped on each hectare every year. When large numbers of animals are farmed intensively in industrial units in an attempt to maximise profits, problems are inevitable. Disease control and food safety are prime issues as is environmental sustainability. Since the Second World War agricultural practices have gone through massive changes in mechanisation, chemical use and large-scale intensive farming. As a result of increasing the density of domestic farm animals, reported farm pollution incidents have sky-rocketed. In some areas farm waste is a major problem. Some countries report that about half of all serious water pollution incidents are caused by manure run-off from farms. Poultry, cows and pigs are the farm animals most responsible for the pollution. Livestock production occupies 70% of all land used for agriculture and 30% of the planet’s land surface. It is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. It also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. A large quantity of animal waste is generated by concentrated animal feeding operations and disposal of the waste has been a major problem. If the soil or plants are unable to absorb the nutrients the run-off gets into water systems. On Intensive free range farms running 10,000 hens per hectare, the huge volume of manure on paddocks poses an ecological risk to water courses because of the high nutrient load. Farm waste has led to the growth of toxic algae in waterways (algal blooms), the development of parasitic infections on various species. This is why all farms should follow an Environmental Management plan and why low stocking densities must be maintained.