News - May 19, 2016

Farming livestock on a meat roof

The world population is growing and more and more people live in cities. Reason enough for five Wageningen students to ponder the possibilities for meat production in the city. They think that chickens and sheep can easily be kept on the roofs of schools and homes for the elderly. In their project The Meat Roof, which is part of the Honours Programme, they are exploring what it would take.

The five students – Wietse Wiersma, Anouk Mulder, Tanja Meeuwsen, Marijke Zonnenberg and Sabine van Oossanen – see the Meat Roof as a way of introducing city dwellers to meat production. They also hope it will help improve social cohesion. The idea is that volunteers from the neighbourhood start a farm together with an urban farmer. The farm produces meat, eggs and wool for the neighbourhood.

The Meat Roof could house meat chickens, laying hens and/or sheep, kept in a barn with access to the outdoors. The animals can graze on the grass grown on the roof. The students also want the manure to be digested and reused as fertilizer for growing vegetables or animal feed, also on roofs. The biogas can then be used to heat the building. Some extra measures would be required for water management. One minus point, say the students, is that environmental emissions are relatively high in this open farming system. But because The Meat Roof is small-scale and produces grass and winter vegetables as well, the environmental score might not be too bad in the end.

More information on the Meat Roof: