By Chris McCullough

POULTRY houses use a lot of energy and can be the source of high emissions if not built with efficiency in mind, plus they also represent a huge investment for poultry farmers who usually have to shell out the funds themselves.

As houses can last for decades, there are quite a few poultry units in operation today that would benefit from a technology upgrade or indeed replacing in order to make them more efficient.

Now, thanks to new funding, a more efficient ‘Ideal Home’ poultry house of the future is being developed. An alliance between Moy Park, with its partners Queen’s University Belfast and JF McKenna, has been successful in attracting funding from Innovate UK to develop their £250,000 ‘Ideal Home’ project.

Delving deep into the modern requirements of a poultry house, the project will provide an improved, resource and energy-efficient solution, as the farming industry looks to meet the sustainability target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

With a life span of more than 30 years, a poultry house presents a significant investment for farmers. This ‘Ideal Home’ project will focus on animal health and welfare while improving heating, ventilation, lighting and feeding systems through energy efficient and sustainable solutions.

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency, which provides funding and support to science and technology projects.

Moy Park’s head of Research and Development, Dr Anne Richmond, said: “Our corporate responsibility agenda focuses our efforts on developing our business in a sustainable and ethical way, investing and improving wherever we can to meet present and future needs.

“Ideal Home is an exciting and innovative project with high reward potential, which drives transformational change to boost sustainability and productivity across the UK's poultry production system. From an industry perspective, work must start now to help achieve the net zero emission target by 2040, in a manner that assures high animal welfare.

“The Ideal Home partnership, led by Moy Park, has developed a project that introduces a detailed baseline assessment identifying the current situation within ‘traditional’ housing.

“Net zero emission agriculture, coupled with feeding the growing global population, can only succeed if improved production and sustainability are fully integrated into the food production process,” she said.

The feasibility project spans 18 months, during which time the research consortium will work closely with farmers and customers regarding the proposed precision solutions.