Feed production is highly significant for animal husbandry, in both financial and environmental terms. Attention must be paid to feeding animals methodically and procuring feed raw materials. Atria is able to play a part in boosting the environmental efficiency of animal husbandry through its own feed production and nutritional advice. Atria Finland Ltd owns a feed company named A-Feed Ltd. (A-Rehu Oy), which takes account of the environmental effects of production in its operations:
A-Rehu uses energy feeds and protein feeds produced as by-products of the food industry to feed domesticated animals, for example:
- The whey and milk rinse produced as by-products in the dairy industry are good raw ingredients for calf and pig feed.
- The excess bread discarded by bakeries is a good grain substitute for cattle.
- Grain-based protein substances produced as a by-product of starch and ethanol production are used efficiently in farming, and they have replaced a significant amount of the soya that was imported from South America.
- By-products of the potato industry are used efficiently as feed for cattle.
- Grain-based energy and protein substances discarded by the brewing industry can be used for cattle and pigs.
Soy is being replaced with more environmentally friendly Finnish feed
In Finland, production animals eat less soy on average than animals in other European countries. Soy is problematic in terms of its environmental effects. It is primarily used for feeding chickens and pigs. Atria is continuously working to reduce the consumption of foreign soy.
Since autumn 2016, A-Rehu has added Finnish feed peas to chicken feeds to reduce the level of their foreign soy and wheat content. A-Rehu is a subsidiary of Atria that manufactures feeds. The cultivation of feed peas improves the structure and nitrogen economy of the field while also reducing the need for nitrogen fertilisation. It is also a good way to improve crop rotation.
Pig farms will be able to replace soy feed with Finnish broad beans in the future. This was discovered during the Practical Research on a Pig Farm project, which began in spring 2016. Atria is participating in this project.
The consumption of soy is increasing and creating a need to expand cultivation areas, which poses a threat to the Amazon rainforests in particular. A loss of rainforests also means a loss of carbon sinks and accelerates climate change.
Environmentally friendly grass feeding
The production of red meat presents a few significant environmental problems. The situation in the Nordic countries is much better than in many other countries. “Finland should pay special attention to three of the ten most serious global environmental problems related to beef production,” says Perttu Virkajärvi, Principal Research Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Finnish beef cattle diets are based on grass feeding, which makes them environmentally friendly in many ways. In addition, beef production in Finland is closely linked to dairy production.