End of OK-Net EcoFeed project
Over the past three years, 19 organisations from 12 European countries have taken part in the Horizon 2020 OK-Net EcoFeed project to help farmers achieve 100% use of organic and regional feed for pigs and poultry.
Why a project on organic feed for pigs & poultry?
Use of regional feed is one of the requirements of the European organic regulation. For pigs and poultry, the revised European legislation requires that “by 2022 at least 30% of the feed shall come from the farm itself or, if this is not feasible or such feed is not available, shall be produced in cooperation with other organic or in-conversion production units and feed operators using feed and feed material from the same region” (Regulation EU, 2018/848).
Achieving 100% organic diets for monogastrics is challenging. The revised EU regulation acknowledges this difficulty by allowing the use of 5% non-organic protein feed for young animals. Furthermore, importing animal feed has economical disadvantages for farmers and can compromise the sustainability and decrease consumers’ confidence.
What did OK-Net EcoFeed do?
The OK-Net Ecofeed project supported on-farm feed autonomy and helped producers achieve 100% organic rations for monogastric animals. All the project’s work aimed at tackling the organic feed objectives for the coming years, including reducing the cost of feed production, improving sustainability and animal welfare, and satisfying consumer expectation for traceability of production. To name few, the Soil Association in the UK proposes the use of sprouted seeds as a valuable green fodder to ensure good animal welfare, particularly when access to pasture for laying hens and broilers is restricted. In Italy, AIAB evaluated the possibility of growing camelina, which fits well into the crop rotation and it may so sustain the farm’s self-production. Camelina cake is also a protein-rich feed, and an efficient alternative to the protein of soya. In Spain, Ecovalia tested brewer’s yeast, an industry by-product rich in protein and vitamin B to be used as an alternative source of protein for pigs.
What did OK-Net EcoFeed deliver?
OK-Net EcoFeed’s trials were run by farmers for farmers and designed according to the regional potential and opportunities. More than 100 existing and new tools including reports, technical articles, leaflets, videos, booklets, scientific articles, results of trials and practice abstracts were collected.
Besides the variety of solutions and practices identified, OK-Net EcoFeed has created a free ration-planning software, allowing farmers and advisors to compose rations for organic pig and poultry that fit best to their conditions.
All tools are available for direct, free download from the Organic Farm Knowledge platform. During the OK-Net EcoFeed project, a significant effort was made to expand the Organic Farm Knowlegde platform to include all major themes related to organic farming, from horticulture, environmental protection to marketing and agricultural trade. Users can now browse through the platform’s themes or search the toolbox directly according to tool type, language, keywords and more.
All project outcomes were compiled and analysed to identify research needs and barriers to innovation and propose recommendations for a better-targeted research and innovation agenda. The full report is available on the project website.
Where do I find more information?
OK-Net EcoFeed helped organic pig and poultry farmers to achieve the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed. The three-year project extended the Organic Farm Knowledge platform. IFOAM Organics Europe coordinated the project consisting of 11 partners and 8 third linked parties from 12 countries. OK-Net Ecofeed is an Horizon 2020-funded project.
OK-Net EcoFeed has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 773911. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.