25 February 2021
A key objective of organic farming is the closing of nutrient cycles but it is difficult to achieve. To a large extent, feed and livestock production, particularly of pigs and poultry, are concentrated in different regions of Europe, and animal feed (especially proteins) has to be imported from regions far away. Organic farmers also struggle to source protein feed of organic quality.
OK-Net EcoFeed (Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed) is a 3-year project coordinated by IFOAM EU and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme that aims to help organic pig and poultry farmers achieve the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed.
The project consortium consists of 11 partners and 8 third linked parties covering 11 European countries and includes feed processors and mills, farmers and farmer’s organisations, research institutes, universities and advisory agencies. The Organic Research Centre (ORC) and Soil Association are UK partners.
OK-Net Ecofeed builds on the experiences of the OK-Net Arable project; it was within this project that the web-based knowledge exchange platform ‘Organic Farm Knowledge’ was set up and has been developed further for the OK-Net EcoFeed project, a logical continuation of making the bridge between feed cultivation over feed processing to animal production.
Have a read of this factsheet produced by the ORC which sets the project in more context.
AIMS & APPROACH
The overall aim is to help farmers, breeders and the organic feed processing industry achieve the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed for monogastrics - particularly pigs, broilers, laying hens and parents of broilers and laying hens.
There are four objectives:
- Collate and communicate scientific and practical knowledge currently available about organic and regional feed production for monogastrics
- Create a European network of innovation groups to facilitate exchange and co-creation of knowledge among farmers, businesses, researchers and advisors
- Collect end-user material and develop new tools adapted for businesses and farmers.
- Include the topic of monogastric animal feed within the Organic Farm Knowledge platform
The main project outputs are building a European network of innovation groups to facilitate exchange and co-creation of knowledge among farmers, businesses, researchers and advisors, and collecting end-user material and developing new tools for farmers and businesses.
All resources - both produced during the project and previous to the project but identified as being valuable knowledge to build upon - can be found in the ‘Animal husbandry’ section of the Organic Farm Knowledge platform. They take the form of ‘tools’ (which can include resources such as leaflets, manuals and videos), some of which have been summarised as practice abstracts.
View tools that are resources on Agricology below...
Browse some of the other tools particularly relevant information for UK farmers below...
- Feeding pigs: effect of silage video
- Feeding grass silage to fattening pigs (OK-Net Ecofeed Practice Abstract)
- Can sprouted seeds be a source of nutrition for poultry? (video)
- Relevance of roughage feeding to pigs (OK-Net Ecofeed Practice Abstract)
- Foraging of broilers in outdoor areas (OK-Net Ecofeed Practice Abstract)
- Organic pig production in Europe: health management in common organic pig farming
- Introducing maize, bean and courgettes into the diet of foraging pigs (OK-Net EcoFeed Video)
- Green protein from locally grown crops (OK-Net EcoFeed Practice Abstract)
- Silage feeding for laying hens (OK-Net Ecofeed Practice Abstract)
- Feeding strategies for broiler chickens (OK-Net EcoFeed Practice Abstract)
- Maize germ cake (OK-Net EcoFeed Practice Abstract)
- Dry Forages: Process and techniques (OK-Net EcoFeed Practice Abstract)
- Improving health and welfare of pigs - A handbook for organic pig farmers
- How to increase the nutritional value of beans for pig and poultry diets? (video)
Blog - 'Feeding pigs and poultry on 100% organic and regional feed - what have we learned in the OK-Net EcoFeed project?'
The ORC's Lindsay Whistance reflects on what has been learnt in the project and presents results from tools tested by the Innovation Groups in her blog.
Farmer profile and podcast
Read and listen to UK organic poultry farmer Mike Mallett talk about why and how he is endeavouring to achieve the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed as part of an Agricology farmer profile and podcast...
Access the full farmer profile here.
'Feeding Pigs and Poultry on Regionally Produced and Organic Feed' video
Innovative Farmers hosted an OK-Net EcoFeed session at the ORFC Global conference which included UK farmer Mike Mallett talking about his aims to produce eggs from a soya free diet and a sprouting seeds trial. The session also included looking at two systems that could potentially replace soya as a protein source: insects and duckweed, and explored the potential of European soya being used as an alternative to US and South American soya bean meal, reducing emissions associated with transport while growing soya on existing arable land and without causing deforestation.
Find out information about Innovative Farmers field labs:
CREATED BY: Janie Caldbeck