Water Security for the Chicken Meat Industry

Integrity Ag and Environment Pty Ltd

  • Project code: PRJ-012274

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Saturday, January 18, 2020

  • Project completion date: Monday, November 30, 2020

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 1-Improving environmental sustainability outcomes


The nation and the chicken meat industry are facing unprecedented water shortages in response to climate change and increased water demand. From our previous research (PRJ 004596, PRJ 005770) it is clear that chicken meat production is water efficient: total water use is approximately 21.4L/kg carcase weight, with 15%, 31%, and 54% arising from breeding, grow-out and meat processing respectively. However, the impact and severity of water shortages is projected to increase under the influence of climate change, and water policy settings do not necessarily ensure reliable water supply for the chicken meat industry, meaning water security is now a critical problem.
This project will review water use (including peak demand and variability) and water security across the Australian chicken meat industry (nurseries, hatcheries, grow-out farms and processing plants), and will project the impact of climate change scenarios on future water security for grow-out farms over the next 15 years. Based on the findings, key factors including water licencing and public policy settings will be reviewed with the aim of identifying solutions to improve water security.
In addition to reviewing solutions for water security, the project will conduct a wide-ranging review of closed loop and water efficiency technologies relating to the major sources of water usage and loss for hatcheries, breeder farms, grow-out farms and processing plants. This will identify pathways to reduce water use via improved production practices as well as alternative technologies for water harvesting, treatment and storage.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

Integrity Ag and Environment Pty Ltd

Objective Summary

The expected outcome for this project is that clear pathways will be developed to improve water security via adoption of project recommendations. This will include pathways which identify solutions to improve water allocation security, water use efficiency, water availability, and closed loop water use (including identification of barriers to adoption) throughout the industry into the future. This will enable engagement with state-based water regulators and policy makers and will identify opportunities for improved water utilisation that can be implemented by industry.
The project team have identified the following specific objectives for the project:
1. To review regional water use by the chicken meat industry, identify water security issues currently affecting the chicken meat industry, and identify likely impacts into the future under climate change scenarios.
2. To determine water policy settings that would ensure water security for the chicken meat industry.
3. To identify novel solutions to improve water use efficiency and water harvesting.
4. To identify barriers to closed loop water usage within the chicken meat industry.