Australian egg farmers are trying to do their bit to lower their environmental impact by opting to go solar and replacing chemical fertilisers with chicken manure, a report has found.
The Australian Eggs sustainability report found that in response to increased community expectations about sustainable practices, the industry has looked at ways to reduce its carbon footprint.
As egg farming uses a significant amount of electricity to keep hens comfortable in the harsh Australian climate, larger egg farms have turned to solar to keep costs down and to transition to cleaner energy, the report says.
“There has been a take-up of solar energy installations by major farms which is enormously positive,” Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies told AAP.
The report, published this week, also looked at how egg farmers can help the agriculture industry move from chemical to organic fertilisers produced by their own chickens.
Chicken manure is rich in nutrients and can be used as a replacement fertiliser to help reduce the carbon footprint of the agriculture sector.
“There’s an enormous amount of potential for our industry to play a role in this,” Mr McMonnies said.
He added that chicken manure can also be used by organic farmers.
The report also noted the egg industry has invested in a new hen welfare training program in response to community expectations about how animals are cared for.
NSW egg farmer Bede Burke argues the industry has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the agriculture sector, which is improving as farms opt to go solar.
Mr Burke recently installed a 99-kilowatt solar system on his farm in Tamworth and also composts his chicken manure, which he then uses on his crops.
“If we put straight manure on, it’s like giving crops a Mother energy drink. If you compost it, it’s like putting 10 cups of tea on,” he told AAP.
“We are an incredibly resourceful industry and we keep looking for better ways of doing things and being more efficient with our resources.”