In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is disposed in landfill p/a, which is leading to substantial environmental and economic losses (Arcadis, 2019). Additionally, poultry feed represents a significant cost to producers. There is possibility of producing feed from food waste (Dao et al., 2019). Therefore, there is great economic and environmental opportunity in the creation of poultry feed from food waste. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the efficacy of recycled food waste-based feed on production performance, egg quality and health status for laying hens by comparing a commercial diet with a food waste diet and a 50-50 blend of the two. It was hypothesised that hens offered food waste-based diets would perform equally as well as hens offered commercial diets.
The 40 week study was conducted at the University of New England’s cage layer facility. Food waste-based diets contained higher concentrations of crude protein, fat, fibre, available phosphorus and sodium compared to the control diet. Due to these extra nutrients, hens offered food waste-based diets outperformed their control commercial feed counterparts. Throughout the trial, there was no effect on egg production with food waste-based diets and through the majority of the trial, egg quality was also unaffected. Shell thickness and strength was reduced at 10 weeks due the variability of the dietary Ca source (oyster shell) provided, but this was quickly rectified and was not an issue through the remainder of the study. Digestibility analysis is ongoing.
This study has clearly demonstrated the advantages of food waste-based feed for laying hens. Performance was improved with food waste-based diets and egg production and quality was largely unchanged. Given that food waste-based diets provide both economic and environmental advantages (by diverting waste from landfill), this study demonstrates that it is a highly advantageous feed for poultry which provides many positive opportunities for the future sustainability and profitability of the Australian poultry industry.