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.