Feed choices could aid poultry production sustainability

Finding ways to improve the sustainability of feed production could reduce the environmental impact of the poultry industry.

Choat Boonyakiat | Fotolia.com
Choat Boonyakiat | Fotolia.com

Finding ways to improve the sustainability of feed production could reduce the environmental impact of the poultry industry.

“Agriculture is responsible for about 20% of global emissions. Part of it is unavoidable because any land that you end up using will release greenhouse gases that are not CO2,” Mia Lafontaine, sustainability manager at Trouw Nutrition, said.

“But there are choices you can make to be more efficient. In monogastric animal protein production, more than half of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to feed formulation. So the most direct way of reducing the impact of chicken or egg production is through the feed and better feed choices.”

Trouw Nutrition’s feed formulation software will now be equipped with feed environmental footprint (including but not limited to greenhouse gases), and the capacity to optimize formulation to reduce this footprint.

Be aware, but also optimize

Knowing the environmental footprint of poultry feed can help farms and feed mills “be aware, but also optimize,” Lafontaine added. “For example, the alternatives to soya do not offer the same ideal set of nutrients. If they are supplemented with amino acids, are they really more sustainable or not?”

In addition, consumers place a high value on sustainability when making purchasing decisions. The poultry industry can use the information about feed production to share their sustainability story with processors, retailers and other customers.

“Retailers are asking more questions about the impact of food production to reduce their footprint, with an increased focus on animal proteins. In turn, they ask their suppliers and so on,” she said. “They can say this is the footprint of my feed production and this is what I’ve done to reduce it.”

Split-feeding sustainability

Split-feeding – where hens are fed two different feeds per day – could help improve feed costs, breeder performance and overall sustainability.

Breeder hens fed by this approach tend to consume less feed and use nutrients more efficiently, resulting in fewer nutrients lost in feces and reductions in CO2 emissions.

“Comparatively, if you give them the same feed all day, you end up overfeeding and then that also adds to environmental emissions,” explained Lafontaine.

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