Organic Centre Wales has commissioned the Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm to assess the contribution that UK produced sunflower and oil seed rape (OSR) can make to organic poultry rations.
At present many organic poultry systems rely heavily on imported protein, mostly in the form of soya. This does not sit particularly well with organic principles which place heavy emphasis on closed systems and using feed from the farm. In addition organic, and indeed GM free, soya is getting increasingly hard to source and therefore is becoming more expensive. Organic Centre Wales has been working on this issue for some time now and the challenges and opportunities are summarised in a short film.
The ORC – Elm Farm study covers a number of aspects including: the basic nutritional composition of sunflower and oil seed rape; the proportion of a bird's dietary requirements that could be met from these crops; their limitations such as anti nutritional factors and taints; the area of these crops currently grown organically in the UK and the potential for their expansion; and basic agronomy under organic conditions.
Tony Little, who is coordinating this work for Organic Centre Wales said 'This is a very timely piece of work. Over reliance on purchased feed is one of the biggest issues for organic poultry systems. What we hope to do is show how we can feed birds more sustainably while offering savings to poultry producers and opportunities for arable growers.'