Why reduce your poultry farm’s carbon footprint?

Human activities, including modern agriculture and modern food-animal production practices, contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Greenhouses work by allowing solar radiation into the house, but limiting the amount of radiation that can get back out. Greenhouse gasses work the same way on a global scale by changing the makeup of the atmosphere.

They are defined by their radiative forces (defined as the change in net irradiance at atmospheric boundaries between different layers of the atmosphere) which change the earth’s atmospheric energy balance. These gases can prevent heat from radiating or reflecting away from the earth and thus may result in atmospheric warming. The GHGs of particular concern in poultry production are; carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4).

Within the agricultural sector, the GHGs getting the most attention are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Life-cycle assessments — a technique used to quantify the impact of these gases — showed that GHGs were 2.36 kg CO2e/kg for chicken, which is considerably lower than the 3.4-4.2 kg CO2e/kg seen for pork or 14.8 kg CO2e/kg for beef. Still, it’s important for the poultry industry to understand GHGs and how minimizing them can reduce costs as well as protect the environment.

However, it should be noted that the majority of GHGs associated with poultry don’t originate from poultry production at all. They’re associated with feed production, which the poultry grower often can’t control. However, producers can do their part by monitoring and controlling on-farm GHG emissions — an effort that will benefit flocks and farm profitability, as well as the environment.

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The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.