Poultry International - June 2018 - 26
26 ❙ PoultryInternational
Why chicken is the sustainable
Chicken is the most environmentally friendly of meats, making it
well-placed for sustainable intensification.
Our climate is changing, and people and
governments around the world are seeking ways
to protect our planet. Because food production
is a driver of climate change, our challenge will
be to feed the world's expanding population with
a reliable and quality source of nutrition, while
reducing the effects of production.
One promising solution lies with poultry.
Chicken production is naturally gentler on the
environment than other livestock. On top of
that, chicken companies have been working for
decades to breed efficiencies that not only produce healthier birds, but also make commercial chicken
production environmentally responsible.
Using less land also means less destruction
of natural wildlife habitats.
Chickens are also more water-efficient than other
livestock. A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation has found that one half to a full pound (0.22
to 0.51 kilograms) of chicken meat can be produced per
264 gallons (1,000 liters) of water, compared with close
to one-sixth of a pound (0.082 kilograms) of beef for the
same amount of water. Thus, beef production can use up
to six times more water than chicken.
And, it has been proven that chicken production also
requires lower amounts of resources, such as electricity
and gas, than other livestock.
Poultry: the responsible protein
Sustainable intensification: breeding a
Poultry greenhouse gas emissions are naturally
low. A study by the global Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the
chicken, as a species, has a smaller carbon footprint
than all other meat-producing animals, emitting onequarter of the harmful gases. One reason is that other
livestock produce greater amounts of methane during
their digestive processes.
Another is that chicken production demands far fewer
resources. As an example, a 2014 article by Rachel Nuwer
in Smithsonian Magazine made the case that beef production requires 28 times more land, six times more fertilizer
and 11 times more water than chicken. That adds up to
about five times more greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable intensification has become a global aspiration in the quest to increase food production from existing
farmland while lowering pressure on the environment.
Over the past decade, broiler breeding companies have put
significant resources and effort into creating efficiencies in
chicken production that support sustainable intensification.
One such efficiency is a healthy feed conversion rate
(FCR). FCR indicates biological efficiency by measuring the kilograms of feed required for every kilogram of
live weight produced.
A concrete example of the benefit is that today's
farmers can raise a healthier and more robust 2.4-kilogram chicken in 35 days using 3.6 kilograms of feed and
a very efficient 1.5 FCR. That was not so 30 years ago,
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ June 2018