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Tomorrow Today

How do you make livestock organically?

We speak with Gerriet Trei from the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development

Watch video 03:38

DW: Gerriet Trei, isn’t it a little bit of an illusion to assume that customers and consumers are going to change their eating habits, simply based on the fact that they don’t want to destroy the environment?

Gerriet Trei: I think it’s not easy to change the consumption of the users. It takes, I think, lots of time.

It will take time. Your team is working on a project called "mobile stalls" for animals. Tell us how they work.

We use, since 2011, two mobile housing systems, and it’s a housing system for 200 layers. And they are kept in four departments, where every one has 50 laying hens. And they can use a free range area of about 200 square meters. And we want to know what they eat when they’re free range.

So you want to what kind of insects? Whether they’re eating worms, or insects?

Yes, the protein sources.

Do these mobile stalls also work with other kinds of animals? For example, would they work with pigs?

No, in this form, I don’t think so. But there are cabin systems which are used for sows and meat production. But they are less mobile because they don’t use wheels.

Tell me about the advantages of a mobile system like this, as opposed to big factory farms…

The advantage is that they always have a new area of fresh grass, and you get less nitrogen on the area. And less problems with parasites.

So the animals live healthier lives, basically. And for larger meat animals for example, that beef is one of the meats that’s worst for the environment in many ways, in terms of the carbon footprint that it leaves behind – does this actually turn that into a more positive direction as well? Could this kind of idea be used in that way?

It’s not a new idea. It’s very old. You can keep cows on grass, only on grass, without concentrates. And then the problems for the environment are much less.

Well, in the long run, do you think that models like this could be used, for example, in developing countries or in threshold countries, by farmers there?

Yes, I think it’s possible, but in a less complex version.

Interview: Derrick Williams