Three specific projects at Nottingham Trent University aimed at reducing the environmental impact of meat and poultry production have together sparked uptake in the sector, and led to the development of a patent and product adoption by a FTSE100 company. The first, which involved the University’s Poultry Research Unit (PRU) in the development of a patented bioavailable silicon feed supplement to reduce lameness in poultry, has led to the creation of a spin-out company, Si-Active, which is now working with the world’s third largest feed supplier, AB Agri, to penetrate markets in the 50 countries in which it sells poultry feed supplements. Second, the PRU’s Bioethanol Project established that yeast derived from bioethanol, using its patented separation technique, may be a cost-competitive substitute for imported soya-based protein currently used in the diets of chickens bred for meat production. As well as tackling concerns that the global production of bioethanol from feed stocks competes with land use for primary food crops, the PRU’s patented yeast separation technology will lead to an estimated 40% reduction in energy usage, benefit UK poultry producers through lower feed costs, and reduce the environmental impact of poultry production by shrinking the proportion of land required to grow their more traditional diet of soya beans in environmentally vulnerable areas such as rain forest. Finally, Nottingham Trent’s Phosphorus Project is investigating factors affecting the ability of poultry to utilise dietary minerals, in particular phosphorous. Its findings showing that phosphorous (a limited resource) is sometimes oversupplied in feed are starting to influence farming practice in the real world, and so lowering costs for poultry producers.


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