Feed cost accounts for 70% of the production costs in poultry farming and any strategy to reduce the cost will have a significant impact on farm profitability. Currently, soybean meal is the major protein ingredient added to the diet at about 30% inclusion rate to satisfy protein and amino acid needs of the chicken. Australia is a net importer of soybean meal. In FY 2020 - 2021 about 1.18M tons of soybean meal were brought into Australia for the livestock sector. The unit cost fluctuated between $650 - $750 AUD per ton throughout the year. The reliability on the international markets as well as constant price change introduces a high uncertainty and potential risk factor for livestock producers in Australia where their feed formula is highly dependent on soybean meal inclusion. In addition, there are environmental concerns around soybean production globally and its impacts on the loss of forests, grasslands, and savannahs as well as a relatively high carbon footprint. The aim of this project is to identify sustainably and locally produced viable alternative protein-rich ingredient(s) that can replace soybean meal -fully or partially- in poultry feed, without compromising growth and production performance. There are several alternative ingredients that have a similar nutrient and digestible amino acid profile to that of soybean meal that can be used in livestock diets, but lack of knowledge around the production performance of chickens when fed with these alternative ingredients, often causes an opportunity to be lost. This research will fill in the existing knowledge gap around the production performance of poultry, both broiler chickens and layer hens when soybean meal is replaced with alternative protein-rich ingredients. It is expected that the outcomes of this project will improve poultry farming sustainability and resilience and reduce the costs of chicken meat and egg production in Australia.

Project members

Mahdi Asadirad

PHD candidate
School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability