Health

The contribution of animal feed to the sustainability, health and well-being of poultry production


Animal feed forms the first link in the food chain. – Article published in the December issue of the magazine avim.


Elena Masso Suggs
Spanish Federation of Compound Animal Food Manufacturers (CESFAC) Veterinary Medical Technology Department

Animal feed is the first link in the food chain and is crucial to ensuring animal health and food safety. With its characteristic resilience, the industry has been researching and innovating for many years to adapt to new needs and concerns related to the health, well-being and sustainability of livestock production. In this sense, different nutritional management strategies contribute to the goals of improving poultry farm health, reducing the use of antimicrobials, improving animal welfare and reducing the environmental impact of production.

Key words: Animal feed, sustainability, health, well-being.

The contribution of animal feed to the health, welfare and sustainability of poultry production systems

Animal feed is the first link in the food chain production and an important component to ensure animal health and food safety. With its proven resilience, the industry has committed years of research and innovation to adapt to new needs and concerns related to the health, welfare and sustainability of livestock production. In this sense, different nutritional management strategies have been developed that contribute to the following goals: improving poultry health, reducing the use of antimicrobials, protecting animal welfare and reducing the environmental impact of intensive systems.

Key words: Feed, sustainability, health, welfare.

Animal feeding

Animal feed accounts for more than 65% of production costs on animal production farms (GO INPULSE, 2022), which means there is a need to optimize the determination of nutritional needs and maximize the supply of nutrients to achieve greater efficiency. Likewise, diets must be formulated taking into account the nutritional needs of each animal, its stage of production and its health status, in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies with important consequences for the animal’s health, immunity and well-being. . New requirements around sustainability and reducing antimicrobial use signal a shift in dietary nutrition management toward the use of ingredients that help improve animal digestive health and prevent infection.

The Spanish animal feed industry not only leads the EU in feed production, but also exports globally (CESFAC, 2023). The feed industry is part of a range of industries that help ensure a safe and high-quality food supply (GO INPULSE, 2022). On this basis, the Animal Feed sector works every day to improve food safety, increase understanding of animal nutritional needs and acquire tools to achieve the goals set at a regulatory and scientific level. One example is a new publication on advanced animal feeding strategies developed by the Federation of European Compound Animal Feed Manufacturers (FEFAC) in collaboration with companies participating in FEFAC to support the transition to more sustainable and circular livestock and aquaculture production. Council on Animal Nutrition and its member associations.

Therefore, the traditional goal of maximizing animal growth and production in the shortest possible time is being replaced by new animal feeding strategies aimed at improving digestive health, immunity, and animal welfare. At the same time, sustainability is becoming increasingly important as a strategy and priority for businesses, which is why it is starting to be integrated into operations for workers at different levels, starting with the supply of raw materials with a lower carbon footprint. Aiming to reduce intake Feed the animal’s emissions from the feed formulation.

farm-to-table strategy

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy, part of the European Green Deal, has as its main objective the transformation towards sustainable food systems (from production to consumption) in order to reduce the environmental footprint of food systems and enhance their visibility. Resilience to crises and continue to ensure healthy and affordable food for future generations.

Among the specific goals defined by the Farm to Fork strategy, the following are the most prominent:

  1. Reduce the use and risks of chemical pesticides by 50%, reduce the use of the most dangerous pesticides by 50%,
  2. Reduce nutrient losses by at least 50% without reducing soil fertility, thereby reducing fertilizer use by at least 20%
  3. Reduce sales of antimicrobials for farm and aquaculture animals by 50%, and
  4. Ensure that at least 25% of EU agricultural land is dedicated to organic farming and significantly increase organic aquaculture.

In order to achieve the goals identified in the strategy, proposals have been prepared to review current animal welfare legislation (aspects of the rearing, transport and slaughter of animals), review feed additive regulations to reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming and create a sustainable food labeling framework, among others .

This article was published in Issue 8 of “December 2023” avim. Subscribe here to get full access to content in this and other magazines.

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