Chicken Meat

Program Overview


Through focused R&D the Rural Industries R&D Corporation Chicken Meat Program supports increased sustainability and profitability in the chicken meat industry.

The program is funded by statutory levies paid by industry participants. This levy revenue is matched by RIRDC at up to 0.5 per cent of gross value of production (GVP). RIRDC is an essential participant in the second term Poultry CRC and invests in the CRC's R&D activities and jointly invests in R&D with the CRC. The Chicken Meat Program also collaborates with other rural R&D corporations.

Research investments are guided by the Chicken Meat R&D Advisory Committee, following the R&D Plan for the Chicken Meat Program 2014-2019.

Chicken meat production in Australia is dominated by a small number of quite large, vertically integrated, privately owned enterprises. These companies typically own hatcheries, feed mills, breeding farms and processing plants, in the case of two such companies, across a number of states. They usually contract out the growing of their meat chickens to independent contract chicken growers, of which there are approximately 800 nationally.

Each of the major companies operating in the industry invests significant funds into in-house R&D, particularly in the areas of product development, marketing and market development, processing technologies, quality control procedures, distribution and packaging.

The Australian chicken meat industry is relatively mature, and has a history of rapid adoption of new technology. This has allowed the industry to achieve significant productivity improvements over the past fifty years.

Genetic stocks, processing and housing technology is largely imported, and this situation is likely to continue into the future. There has been significant investment by growers in recent years in upgraded housing systems.

Feeding, health management and bird husbandry programs usually require significant adaptation to suit Australian conditions, and this needs to be supported by R&D to optimise flock performance, efficiency and industry productivity. Continued productivity improvements will be required over the coming five years if chicken meat is to retain its favourable positioning as the most affordable meat, which in turn will drive its increasing popularity with consumers.

Opportunities for continued productivity enhancements, through the adoption of improved technology on-farm (in areas such as bird health and welfare, husbandry, nutrition and feed management) and elsewhere are key components of the RIRDC program.

The chicken meat industry has many opportunities to capitalise upon opportunities associated with chicken meat's modest environmental footprint relative to alternative animal protein sources, and also to further reduce its environmental impacts and emissions.

Tools and Resources

In addition to the diverse range of publications arising from RIRDC's Chicken Meat program projects, which are available from the RIRDC publications page, there are a number of other resources and tools available that have been developed. Some recent resources include:

Solar PV assessment tool for chicken farmers
A simple self-assessment tool to assist Australian meat chicken growers make a preliminary assessment of the feasibility of solar PV for their farms; a companion tool to the publication “Solar guidelines for Australian meat chicken growers". Download the interactive spreadsheet.

Tunnel Ventilation Fan Comparison Spreadsheet
This spreadsheet allows growers to input information specific to their farm circumstances and helps them to identify the most efficient and cheapest fan for their situation. This is a companion tool to the publication “Review of fan efficiency in meat chicken sheds”, which will be published on the RIRDC website soon. Download the interactive spreadsheet.

Ventilation Fan Cost Calculation Spreadsheet
A tool to assist growers to calculate the potential energy and cost savings of replacing fans in their own situation. This tools supports the publication “How to reduce costs and energy by replacing inefficient ventilation fans on meat chicken sheds”, which will be published on the RIRDC website soon. Download the interactive spreadsheet.

National tunnel ventilation workshops - May 2014

The RIRDC Chicken Meat Program sponsored a second series of workshops for chicken growers  in May 2014 on managing  ventilation during cold weather. 

Five workshops were held across New South Wales and Queensland, covering ventilation in a range of housing types, including on free range farms. 

The workshops were  conducted by Mike Czarick (Extension Engineer) and Brian Fairchild (Extension Poultry Scientist), from the University of Georgia. 

Participants are invited to access the presentations and interactive spreadsheets from the workshop below.

New South Wales Tunnel Ventilation:

Introduction to ventilation
Ventilating based on house relative humidity 
Moisture control
Circulation and exhaust fan operation 
House temperature and performance
Air quality and bird health
Moisture, litter, performance 

Queensland Free Range Ventilation: 

Moisture control
Ventilating based on house relative humidity 
House temperature and performance
Air quality and bird health
Moisture, litter, performance 

Queensland Tunnel Ventilation: 

Moisture control
Ventilating based on house relative humidity   
House temperature and performance
Air quality and bird health
Drinker management  

Spreadsheet: Minimum Ventilation for Poultry House Moisture Management (NOTEThe spreadsheet used in the workshops for calculating Minimum Ventilation for Poultry House Moisture Management can be accessed in the file “”. The file folder is compressed so it will have to be uncompressed before you can access the files. To download the zip file, click on the link above, and then open the folder titled "australia”. This folder contains two files. Before opening the “min vent and poultry house tightness calculator - metric (v1.0 beta)” file you must first open the “Poultrypschfunctions” file.  When a window pops up asking about macros, select “enable macros”. Then open the "min vent and poultry house tightness - metric (v1.0 beta)" calculator. If it is not done in this order the minimum ventilation spreadsheet will not work.)

Program Aim

Stimulate and promote R&D that will deliver a productive and sustainable Australian chicken meat industry that provides quality wholesome food to the nation. 

R&D Plan

The Rural Industries R&D Corporation has managed the Chicken Meat R&D Program on behalf of industry since 1995 and the current R&D Plan is the industry's fourth Five Year R&D Plan with RIRDC.

The major themes driving the Five Year Plan include:

  • Rebuilding the industry's human and institutional research capacity.
  • The imperative for increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Understanding, adapting to and profiting from climate change.
  • Collaboration and working toward the National Poultry RD&E strategy.
  • Recognition that food safety is imperative to ensure ongoing consumer confidence.
  • Acknowledgement that bird welfare is a legitimate community concern that warrants research.
  • Understanding that certain types of market research are a valid use of industry R&D resources.

The Five Year Plan is consistent with RIRDC's ongoing support for the Australian Poultry Cooperative Research Centre.

Key contacts and links

RIRDC Research Manager

Dr Kylie Hewson
Ph: 02 9929 4077
Fax: 02 9925 0627

RIRDC Program Coordinator

Krisha Tysoe
Ph: 02 6271 4147

Australian Chicken Meat Federation

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) is the peak body for the chicken meat industry.
Phone: 02 9929 4077

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RIRDC Projects and Results

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Current projects

All of RIRDC's current chicken meat research projects appear here. Click on a project name for more information about that project.

Current projects

Completed projects

All chicken meat research projects completed by RIRDC appear here. Click on a project name for more information about that project.

Completed projects
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Magazines and Newsletters

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