Monday October 5th, 2020 Water Blog

It’s a Chicken and egg situation

 

Many of us try to live in a sustainable way.

We are being asked to do so for the benefit of the planet.

One way we do this is to choose our food wisely and ensure that the food is produced in an environmentally friendly way.

There is a perception that choosing free range chicken is better than intensively produced chicken. However, increasing numbers of free-range poultry farms near the banks of the River Wye [1] in Wales, is reported to be seriously damaging the river. The River Wye has been very attractive to visitors. However, dung from the chicken farms is spread on the land and nutrients are washed into the river.

The river is failing on allowed levels of phosphate under the EU habitats directive. [2] With the growing numbers of the chicken farms along the river,  the enrichment of the water from the polluting nutrients cause algal blooms.  These algal growths suffocate the river, removing oxygen and therefore killing fish and other organisms.

In efforts to do our best for the environment, sometimes the impacts are not fully understood. The growing desire for less intensive chicken production has led to a greater demand for free range chicken.  This of course might be having significant impact on water quality – that we had not even considered.

[1] https://www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Wye-Tour-Brochure.pdf

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/legislation/habitatsdirective/index_en.htm

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