It is common knowledge that animal nutrition can reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics, with multiple benefits, while reducing the environmental footprint created by meat production. But what kind of diet could this be?
The answer to this question lies in a research project entitled “Investigation of innovative nutritional strategies based on herbs, in order to reduce the use of antimicrobials in the production of pork and poultry with minimal environmental impact – GreenPro” implemented by the Department of Agricultural Technology of the University of Ioannina.
The research is conducted within the framework of the National Action, Bilateral and Multilateral Technology Research Cooperation between Greece – China 2014-2020 of the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” of the General Secretariat for Research & Technology and is a continuation of the integrated “Green Pork” program for which the Department of Agricultural Technology had been awarded by the General Secretariat.
Chicken and pork meat with reduced environmental footprint
The aim of the program is to apply the technologies helping to reduce the environmental footprint to the production of chicken and pork meat without the use of antibiotics in any part of the process, instead using innovative nutrition and biosafety strategies based on herbs and natural food additives that enhance the natural immunity and the beneficial microbial identity of the animals, as well as their well-being and the safety of the final product and its special characteristics.
The project will study the relationship between innovative nutrients together with bioactive substances of aromatic plant extracts with antimicrobial activity of the Greek and Chinese botanical tradition, and the natural microbial flora of animals, as well as their impact on animal health and meat quality.
This project seeks to contribute to enhance the competitiveness of Greek livestock feed products, utilizing the uniqueness of Greek biodiversity to improve as well as give new desirable characteristics to poultry and pork meat.
A Greek-Chinese cooperation to create added value products
As a result of the above-mentioned methodology, the products of animal origin will acquire high added value as they will contain biologically active ingredients from essential oils of the Greek flora.
This way the project aims to improve the quality and safety of animal origin food based on new feed characteristics and, at the same time, to develop a new food identity that will appeal to consumers who prefer products created with innovative, environmentally friendly practices.
The project includes both the in vitro and in vivo study of antibacterial, antioxidant and antiprotozoal active substances from 8 selected herbs of Greek and Chinese origin in meat-producing poultry and pigs, and the practical application of diets that can positively affect the microbiome of animals.
In addition, the project also aspires to become a reference point for the development of agri-food products with special characteristics, such as “green meat” and antibiotic free animal production, which are high priority goals in international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the European Union (Green Deal 2020-2026) and the World Food Programme. The research team includes the University of Ioannina, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Nanjing Agricultural University, the Ioannina Agricultural Poultry Cooperative – PINDOS and ELGO-Dimitra.