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Collaborative Success Stories: Meat on the Table

Hen and lightbulb

University of Missouri researchers might have a way to produce more food with fewer resources.

When people hear “energy efficiency” they often think of homes and businesses. But there’s another arena where energy efficiency has big benefits: agriculture.

Dr. Leon Schumacher and other University of Missouri researchers, in tandem with government and private energy groups, focused on energy efficiency in small animal farms. The team helped farmers install modern heating and cooling equipment, improved animal waste treatment facilities and energy-efficient LED lighting. Farmers not only experienced a 15% savings in energy use, but also got an unanticipated bonus: when the LED lighting was installed in poultry houses, birds needed less feed and grew faster than before.

Schumacher and his colleagues are now conducting follow-up research to identify the optimal conditions for poultry production. They estimate that a typical farmer could produce as many as 75,000 more broilers per year without any additional feed costs or land use. Through their study, they have discovered that different colored LED lights affect different genes and are working to better understand the impact that this information may have for the broiler industry.

Dr. Leon Schumacher is professor of agricultural systems management in the department of biological engineering in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future