There is little time to waste in the race to provide the world’s growing population with healthy diets from sustainable and low-carbon food systems, delegates at the World Poultry Science Association Forum were warned.

Speaking at the event run in conjunction with Poultry Information Exchange in Australia, Gill Gallagher, sustainable agriculture manager at Devenish, explained ‘eco-labelling’ could allow producers to secure a premium for more sustainable production methods.

“Sustainable poultry production is a challenge which needs to be addressed immediately to meet changing market demands and to boost farm profitability,” she said.

“That urgency has arisen as a result of increasing policy pressures by governments which have put in place ambitious carbon reduction policies in the race to net-zero.

“In addition, consumers and other customers along the supply chain are – more and more – increasingly demanding action on greenhouse gas reduction and want to see that farms are adhering to sustainable sourcing policies. That has the potential to result in eco-labelling on products to give consumers choice.”

Carbon footprint

Gallagher explained that the ability to measure the carbon footprint of poultry production also had other benefits, offering a tool to identify inefficiencies and carbon hotspots in the business.

“A more efficient farm is a more profitable farm with a lower carbon footprint,” she said.

“From a strategic point of view, ensuring your production system is as sustainable as possible is a win-win and will only enhance the bottom line.”

Within poultry production, she explained, the best way to minimize environmental impact is to ensure a targeted diet based on precision nutrition, which has been regularly reviewed and updated using appropriate measurement techniques.

“Emissions can also be reduced by using specific combinations of raw materials and using nutritional aids correctly to extract maximum nutrients from raw materials,” she said.

“In addition, growers should minimize anti-nutritional factors which could inhibit digestion and utilization of nutrients.

Finally, it pays dividends to ensure the bird is as healthy as possible so it can fully utilize nutrients. Nutrition does not stand alone in the drive to reduce carbon emissions but sits alongside good management and a constant focus on the health of the bird.

“Close attention to these details will not only reduce the carbon footprint but will also improve feed conversion and boost profits. Ultimately, reducing carbon pays.”