Chicken meat production on an industrial scale must remain competitive in the world market and reduce its adverse environmental impact. This research proposal aims at enhancing the competitiveness and outreach of the participating companies, as well as in promoting innovative entrepreneurship through the production of chicken meat without the use of antibiotic substances, not even for therapeutic purposes, which will be achieved through an innovative production system of reduced environmental footprint. In particular, managerial and nutritional methods will be studied and applied which will replace the use of antibiotics in poultry farming, such as novel means of shaping the environmental conditions of the poultry house, building innovation and biosafety, with the creation of a prototype chicken house for 1000 broilers, that will lead to the production of an innovative product with scientific documentation as “green chicken free of antibiotics”.
At the same time, the research project will scientifically identify and propose a system of traceability of the chicken farm and the produced chicken, using a combination of omic technologies, examination of the microbiome and identification of genes of antibiotic resistance of bacteria (in digestive system and the carcass), with well-defined methodology. It will also help minimize the risks of transferring resistance genes to bacteria that can cause harm to human health. In addition, the identification of the proteome and the microbiome of the produced chicken meat will support the discrete production, without the use of antibiotics and with a reduced environmental footprint, measured through the carbon-life cycle (LCA). Within the framework of this program, industrial development of production will be carried out with the involvement of business partners, as the cooperation between researchers, livestock farmers, feed andmeat industries will be promoted.
A novel rearing system will be developed, to produce for the first time internationally a “green” and antibiotic-free chicken, by a unique innovative method of Greek production, leading to an increase of the domestic added value, with very competitive export importance, products of high added value, as well as benefits for consumers’ health in international level, since the absence of use of antibiotics will minimize the expression of microbial resistance genes in chickens and the possibility of transference to humans. This program covers two basic requirements of the European Union, that one on hand has prioritized the reduction of the consumption of energy in the agriculture sector due to rising energy prices and the requirements of sustainable development, and on the other hand the challenge of antibiotic resistance, since FAO considers antibiotic resistance as the most important global risk against human health. At the same time this program sets the small Greek poultry production as a unique and distinct production system, with worldwide importance, which could not be acquired through conventional methods of industrial production.