Exchanging ideas key

By Country News

Taking a more proactive approach to regulation, research and education is the only way to ensure the Australian poultry industry is at the forefront of innovation, according to a Nuffield scholar.

The issue will only grow as animal welfare and biosecurity are seen as the catalyst for practice change, says 2017 scholarship participant Jessica Pitkin.

The small-scale poultry breeder based in the Hunter Valley of NSW travelled across Brazil, Chile, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and New Zealand interviewing industry organisations, producers and researchers as part of her scholarship.

‘‘Despite there being vast amounts of new technology and modern practices available to the poultry industry to improve productivity, shedding efficiency and animal welfare outcomes, the adoption rate of these technologies across Australia and worldwide is generally low,’’ Mrs Pitkin said.

‘‘My research found that in many instances, regulations and industry guidelines set a minimum standard, which can actually act as both a driver and barrier to innovation.

‘‘Well written and insightful regulation can promote innovation and practice change, but regulation or standards that are based on consumer trends or outdated methods can do the opposite.’’

Travelling in Ontario, Canada, Mrs Pitkin observed an instance of the limiting potential of government policy.

Another key factor influencing innovation adoption in the poultry industry is the diversity of farm ownership with many poultry farms family-owned and often debt-laden, making it difficult to invest in innovative practices.

‘‘However, in some instances, standardised equipment and practice guidelines in larger, corporate poultry businesses can also stifle innovation,’’ Mrs Pitkin said.

‘‘Communication, education and the exchange of ideas within the industry will be key to opening up understanding of current practices and raising awareness of the new, improved practices that will ultimately drive the industry forward.’’