Livestock sustainability: CO2 reduction in the poultry sector

Why is sustainability important to Aviagen?

santiago: We care about helping our customers feed the world. We care about the sustainability of our business and our customers’ businesses, as well as protecting the planet for our children and grandchildren. We have started our study on how we contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the global poultry sector, as we are committed to being transparent and accountable.

Why is the sustainability conversation important, and why now?

Tim: Our population continues to grow, while today many people in the world still suffer from hunger. Zero Hunger is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals prioritized by the International Poultry Council and reflected in our 5 Core Commitments. As an affordable, healthy, accessible and popular protein, poultry is a good solution to world hunger.

At the same time, our Earth is warming and food production contributes about 25% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Poultry production is naturally more environmentally friendly and is only responsible for 6% of food sector emissions.

Sustainability is the answer to respond responsibly to growing demand. As a primary breeder, we are guardians of a large part of the food chain. We take this responsibility seriously and believe that our future depends on the balanced selection for the sustainability work we do today.

Watch a video illustrating Aviagen’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the global poultry industry

What is meant by “sustainable farming” and how does it support the environment?

santiago: We take a balanced and holistic approach to breeding. This means that we maintain a large and diverse gene pool that allows us to balance biological and economic efficiency in poultry production with bird performance, health and welfare. One of our main selection factors is feed conversion ratio (FCR). FCR is the rate at which birds convert feed to live weight and is the primary driver of biological and economic efficiency. By creating continuous progress in FCR, we create sustainability for the planet and our customers, the world’s poultry farmers, and promote social sustainability by improving their ability to feed the world.

How exactly does better FCR contribute to environmental sustainability?

Santiago: An improved FCR provides great benefits for the planet on many levels. Less feed needed to raise strong, healthy birds means fewer acres of land are needed to grow the feed. This land can be reallocated to other crops or used for natural preservation. Additionally, when birds eat less, they excrete less waste in the form of environmental pollutants and greenhouse gases. So you can start to see that the FCR advantage has a chain reaction of environmental benefits.

How can you quantify the environmental impact of Aviagen’s FCR contributions to the global poultry industry?

Tim: Our continuous FCR improvements result in a 1% annual reduction in the carbon footprint of the global poultry industry. This reduction occurred over a period of 50 years. Thus, today’s broilers produce a 50% lower carbon footprint than birds in 1970, and birds in 2030 are expected to produce around 15% less carbon footprint than those of today. It all adds up to steady and exciting progress for the entire poultry industry.

Photo: Aviagen

Can well-being and sustainability goals be achieved simultaneously?

Tim: We believe that animal welfare and sustainability go hand in hand. Our research proves beyond doubt that healthy birds with good welfare have better liveability and productivity and are more efficient when it comes to feeding. All of these benefits add up to greater environmental sustainability, as well as economic sustainability for our customers. In turn, they are better equipped to ensure food security for people in the communities they serve, helping to end world hunger.

What are your future sustainability goals?

Santiago: Through Livestock sustainability, Aviagen strives to advance the biological and economic efficiency of poultry production. It’s not an end goal, as we realize sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Throughout this journey, continuous improvement is essential as we work to increase the food supply to respond responsibly to a growing global population, while always seeking new ways to create a better future for our customers, the planet and its inhabitants.

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