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How can we improve the environmental sustainability of poultry production?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ilkka Leinonen, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This review presents results of recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies aiming to quantify and improve the environmental performance of UK poultry production systems, including broiler meat, egg and turkey meat production. Although poultry production has been found to be relatively environmentally friendly compared to the production of other livestock commodities, it still contributes to environmental impacts such as global warming, eutrophication and acidification. Amongst different subprocesses, feed production and transport contributes ~70% to the global warming potential of poultry systems, whereas manure management contributes ~40-60% to their eutrophication and acidification potentials, respectively. All these impacts can be reduced by improving the feed efficiency, either by changing the birds through genetic selection or by making the feed more digestible (e.g. by using additives such as enzymes). However, although genetic selection has the potential to reduce the recourses needed for broiler production (including feed consumption), the changing need of certain feed ingredients (most notably protein sources) as a result of changes in bird requirements may limit the benefits of this strategy. The use of alternative feed ingredients, such as locally grown protein crops and agricultural by-products, as a replacement of South American grown soya can potentially also lead to improvements in several environmental impact categories, as far as such feeding strategies have no negative effect on bird performance. Other management options, such as improving poultry housing and new strategies for manure management have also potential to further improve the environmental sustainability of the poultry industries in Europe.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leinonen I, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Year: 2016

Volume: 75

Issue: 3

Pages: 265-273

Print publication date: 01/08/2016

Online publication date: 03/03/2016

Acceptance date: 17/02/2016

Date deposited: 14/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0029-6651

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2719

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0029665116000094


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