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Weekly Overview: Everyone is Talking about Sustainability

23 October 2014

GLOBAL - The theme of the week in the poultry world seems to have been sustainability, particularly its environmental aspects.

In London earlier this week, a new tool to assess the environmental impacts of turkey production was unveiled, paving the way for future reductions.

An event was held to demonstrate the progress so far in quantifying and improving the environmental performance of turkey production and the demonstration of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Tool.

Working together with academic partners, the supply industry and the British Poultry Council, the UK turkey industry wished to improve its efficiency and reduce its environmental impact. In order to do so, it needed to be able to assess current impacts of turkey enterprises.

The tool aims to enable identification of input and output activities within the systems that contribute significantly to their efficiency and environmental impact (hot-spots) and have possibilities for improvement.

Dr Illka Leinonen of Newcastle Univeristy presented some of these results obtained so far. One measure that shows great promise is to use poultry litter to generate electricity rather than use it as a fertiliser.

Other changes, such as using alternative proteins in the feed, reducing stocking density or increasing slaughter age made relatively small differences to the environmental impact measures.

Feeding the world without damaging the environment was the focus of World Food Day 2014 last week – and the goal of several EU-funded research projects.

One of these involves turning agricultural waste into animal feed, a solution from EU-funded research project, NOSHAN. It says the project would open up new opportunities for farmers, cut Europe’s dependence on feed imports and create new 'green' jobs in waste collection, treatment plants and feed manufacturing.

Consumers can make a big difference in reducing the water used in livestock production, according to a Washington State University study.

Small changes on the consumer side can help, and may be necessary, to achieve big results in a production system, explained the researchers.

They have demonstrated that consumers are willing to pay a little more for meat products labelled to reflect a single, environmentally friendly production practice, such as water conservation. This could add up to real change. Single-focus labels do not yet exist in the US.

Brazilian food processing giant, BRF, reports it has been placed among the five best performers in the management of sustainability with a focus on low-carbon technologies.

Zoetis has explored how commercial poultry producers make their poultry-health programmes more sustainable – ethically, environmentally and economically.

And last but not least, the sixth World Nutrition Forum, organised by Biomin, ended two full days of sessions offereing plenty of food-for-thought on issues of sustainability across a range of topics – from the animal sciences to management, economics and philosophy.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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