Modern broiler chickens are a major animal husbandry success story, both in terms of efficient resource utilisation and environmental sustainability. However, continuing artificial selection for both efficiency and rapid growth will be subject to both biological limits and animal welfare concerns. Using a novel analytical energy flow modelling approach, we predict how far such selection can go, given the biological limits of bird energy intake and partitioning of energy. We find that the biological potential for further improvements in efficiency, and hence environmental impact reduction, is minimal relative to past progress already made via artificial selection. An alternative breeding strategy to produce slower-growing birds to meet new welfare standards increases environmental burdens, compared to current birds. This unique analytic approach provides biologically sound guidelines for strategic planning of sustainable broiler production.
- Animal breeding
- Environmental impact