How can we improve the environmental sustainability of poultry production?

Ilkka Leinonen, Ilias Kyriazakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


The review presents results of recent life cycle assessment 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 with the production of other livestock commodities, it still contributes to environmental impacts, such as global warming, eutrophication and acidification. Amongst different sub-processes, feed production and transport contributes about 70 % to the global warming potential of poultry systems, whereas manure management contributes about 40–60 % to their eutrophication potential and acidification potential, 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 resources 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 long 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 the potential to further improve the environmental sustainability of the poultry industries in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental impacts
  • Feed ingredients
  • Life cycle assessment


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