Sustainable broiler production: Building a greener future

Sustainable poultry production has become more than just an industry buzz phrase these days. Instead, greater efficiency is essential if we are to satisfy a growing global demand for high-quality protein, while at the same time ensuring bird welfare and preserving our earth for future generations.

As a result of genetic advancements and balanced selection, Aviagen’s product range excels in biological efficiency. The company’s selection for improvements in growth rate and feed conversion ratio (FCR) has reduced the environmental effects of producing poultry meat, while improving bird health, welfare and liveability.

Improved performance

Genetic advancements and meticulous selection for improvement of poultry production within the last 15 years have advanced biological efficiency, environmental adaptability and overall quality.

Per kilogram of live weight, the modern broiler requires 215g less feed and provides 69g more total breast meat than the broiler of 2003. This progress supports the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of food production and strengthens supply for our global society.

Reduced land use

Of all the broiler traits, feed conversion ratio (FCR) -- the amount of feed required to produce a unit of live weight -- has the greatest potential for reducing environmental impact. Due to Aviagen’s progress in FCR, a 2.5kg broiler will eat 0.5kg less feed, translating to a more favourable bottom line for growers and a decrease in the amount of land needed to grow grain.

When compared to 15 years ago, the broiler of today produces the same amount of high-quality meat using 37% less agricultural land to grow feed, along with 10% fewer poultry houses. The land conserved can be repurposed for other uses.

Lower energy use

Sustainability relies on the resourceful use of valuable fossil fuels to power farms and farming equipment, as well as feed and broiler transportation. Aviagen’s selection strategy has led to improvements in live weight, resulting in to shorter production times (energy savings) and reduced feed production and transportation requirements (reduced fuel use). These advantages have lowered energy use by 16%.

Reduced global warming potential

Greenhouse gas emissions are key drivers of global warming potential and atmospheric pollution. According to a study by the global Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2011), chickens emit 7% less harmful gas (methane) than other livestock.

Through the years, due to novel selection techniques and genetic improvements, Aviagen broiler production now produces 1% less greenhouse gases per year.

Reduced pollution potential

Although environmental pollution comes from many sources, responsible poultry production aims to minimise this potential. As a result of recent improvements, broilers are now better at absorbing the nutrients they get from their feed. Thus, they excrete less waste and environmental pollutants. Aviagen data shows that the improvements achieved in FCR over the past 15 years have resulted in a 20% reduction in nitrate and phosphate excretion.

Water usage

Water is a key nutrient for all living things, and its use by both humans and livestock must be sustainable and responsible. The availability of potable water is expected to become more variable between world regions in the future, and as demand for meat increases, the protection of freshwater resources from pollution and degradation will become ever more important.

In the last 15 years, the improvements seen in FCR have resulted in corresponding reduction of water intake. A 2.5kg broiler now requires 1 litre less water than the broiler of 2003. Achieving optimal water intake not only promotes the sustainability of poultry production, but also maximises broiler health, welfare and production by improving gut health, litter quality and therefore footpad health.

Food for today and tomorrow

Aviagen is committed to helping farmers around the world feed their communities with a healthy, affordable and sustainable source of protein. Through the decades, the company’s balanced breeding approach has led to a heightened level of sustainability and bird welfare that will help to preserve our planet for today and for generations to come.

Click here to view the new ’Aviagen Sustainable Broiler Production Poster’ and video.