Sustainable Poultry Production and its Components

Geeta Pipaliya1, Ashutosh Fular2, P.K.Bharti1, Nilay D. Deshpande3, Jyoti Jawla4, Aruna Kuniyal5, Rakesh N.1, Shreya Nivesh1, Amol Kailas Jadhav1, Neela Madhav patnaik1, Haritha Mohan1

1 ICAR-Mahatma Gandhi Integrated Farming Research Institute, Motihari, Bihar

2 ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Muktshwar, Nainital, Uttarakhand

3 ICAR-Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly

4 ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly

5 ICAR-National Research Centre on Camel, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Introduction

Poultry farming is a profitable venture that serves as a vital source of income for farmers nationwide, contributing high-quality protein through eggs and meat. Its nutritional richness, addressing the dietary needs of individuals across all age groups, makes it an indispensable component of a well-formed diet. Poultry products play a pivotal role in preventing malnutrition, ensuring that children raised in such environments receive a variety of nutrients essential for optimal growth. In the context of the flourishing poultry industry in India, recent statistics underscore the significance of the sector. As per the data of BAHS (2023), India’s egg production stands at an impressive 138.38 billion in 2022-23 as compared to 129.6 billion production of previous year. The per capita availability of egg has increased from 95 to 105 eggs per annum in 2022-23 from previous year 2021-22. Shifting the focus to meat production, India’s overall meat production reaches 9.77 million tonnes, with poultry meat accounting for a substantial 4.995 million tonnes. This underscores the integral role of poultry in meeting the country’s meat demands, constituting an impressive 51.14% share in the total meat production. These statistics not only showcase India’s competency in the poultry industry but also underscore the critical contribution of poultry farming to the nation’s overall food production and security. However, the widespread impact of COVID-19 pandemic has resonated across various industries, including poultry industry too resulting in disruption of its export and trade. To fortify against such challenges and enhance overall sustainability, intensive efforts must be directed towards building resilient and self-reliant production systems. These efforts become imperative in ensuring the continued success and adaptability of the poultry sector in the face of external disruptions.

Sustainability

Sustainable poultry production aims to meet current food needs while ensuring that future generations can also enjoy poultry products. It encompasses the efficient use of natural resources and the minimization of environmental impact. Poultry, being a significant source of animal protein, plays an essential role in global nutrition, but it also has considerable environmental implications (Mottet and Tempio, 2017).The key to sustainable poultry production lies in the balance between meeting the growing demand for poultry and mitigating its environmental footprint. This includes optimizing feed conversion ratios, reducing greenhouse emissions and responsibly managing water and land resources.

Components of Sustainability in Poultry production

Feed resources management

A versatile approach for sustainable poultry feed management is need of the hour. Poultry farmers should concentrate on diversifying their feed resources for ensuring a balanced diet for poultry birds by incorporating a mix of supplementary feeds such as cereal by products, household leftovers, cereal debris and green feeds etc. While incorporating these resources, exploring the alternative resource options like fermented feeds, insect protein and algae etc can offer a more sustainable and wholesome support. It is very critical to understand the seasonal changes in feed availability. The poultry farmers require to prioritize the poultry feed supplementation on the basis of the resources that can be accessed during different seasons. Implementation of coping mechanisms for feed shortage can help in mitigating the scarcity.

It is the need of the hour to direct the efforts towards feed quality improvement by developing the interventions. Also, utilization of by-products from crop cultivations as feed sources can be a sustainable way to manage poultry feed resources with waste reduction, thus providing supplementary nourishment to the poultry. Further, focusing on selective breeding for improved feed efficiency, defined nutrition planning and digestive support like probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and enzymes etc can significantly lessen waste. Technological advancements favoring precision feeding systems and digital managing tools can optimize the feed use and health of poultry birds. Also, utilizing the local feed mills and adding forage crops into the farming system can support both environmental as well as economic sustainability with reduction of transportation and utilization of local resources (Yirgu et al. 2015).

Environmental sustainability

It involves management of poultry production in such a way that could minimize its negative effects on the environment by means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient leaching and conservation of natural resources. There are several strategies that can be implemented for environmental sustainability in poultry production. The key approaches include the intervention for feed efficiency improvement with the use of additives like enzymes, feed ingredients selection with lower environmental impacts and genetic selection for reducing the resource consumption. In addition, manure management approaches like use of poultry litter as a fuel source for electricity production can decrease the GHG emissions and improve overall sustainability (Leinonen et al. 2016).

Water management

Water management in poultry production system is a vital feature of responsible farming approaches. A significant amount of water is required in poultry production for various routine activities like drinking, cleaning, cooling and processing etc. Poultry farmers/producers can make efforts towards reduction of water wastage with improved efficiency through several practices like assessment of current water usage, optimization of water systems, water quality management and monitoring the water impact. Implementation of water conservation practices (i.e., use of low-flow watering systems, rainwater harvest and appropriate manure management for avoiding water resource contamination etc), customary maintenance of equipments and alliance with stakeholders can help in minimizing the water usage with overall sustainability in poultry production. By prioritizing water sustainability, poultry farmers can not only lessen the operational costs but also help in environmental protection for a sustainable future.

Agricultural Sustainability with Poultry farming

Poultry production contributes significantly for sustainable farming practices.  Poultry enable the nutrients cycling through feed, manure and soil. The poultry manure can be utilized as a valuable fertilizer for crops thus closing the nutrient loop along with reduced dependence on chemical fertilizers, thus enhancing the soil health and fertility and contributing to sustainable agriculture practices. Poultry production contributes to biodiversity on farms by interacting with the environment, nurturing resilient ecosystems critical for sustainable agriculture. Also, poultry production helps in climate change mitigation by lowering methane emissions as compared to other livestock. With implementation of the sustainable and energy-efficient production practices, it further lessens the carbon footprint.

Energy efficiency

In order to improve the energy efficiency in poultry farming, various sustainable strategies can be implemented. Use of LED (Light Emitting Diode) in place of traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs offers superior energy efficiency with reduced heat emission, thus lessening the requirement for additional cooling. It would be very helpful to implement the dimming controls and timers in lighting to allow poultry farmers to regulate light levels on the basis of birds’ needs at different stages of their life. Installation of smart ventilation systems utilizes sensors for monitoring temperature, humidity and CO2 levels inside the poultry house and allowing active adjustments in airflow and fan speed, thus minimizing energy use. Incorporation of renewable energy sources including solar and wind power can decrease dependence on conventional grids and cutting GHG emissions. Well-insulated poultry houses are better in maintaining constant temperature, ultimately reducing the energy needed for heating and cooling.

Waste management

Sustainable waste management in poultry production refers to the implementation of the practices that can minimize the environmental impact and maximize the resource efficiency. The appropriate management of generated waste is the key aspect of poultry production, including solid waste and wastewater both. Solid waste consist of bedding material, fecal droppings, empty shells, feathers, dead chickens, dead embryos, decaying tissues etc, while, wastewater is generated as a result of washing incubators and chick managing areas, containing feces, urine, blood, sawdust, leftovers of drug pesticides, remaining acids, metals etc. In order to handle this waste efficiently and sustainably, techniques such as composting and anaerobic digestion can be followed to recycle the waste successfully. In addition, implementation of nutrient management plans for optimizing fertilizer usage and strict bio-security procedures for preventing disease outbreaks are indispensable. In this way, the poultry industry not only trim down its environmental footprint by adopting these practices but also open profitable opportunities by transforming waste into important resources.

Birds’ welfare

For sustainable poultry farming, it is of utmost importance to ensure the birds welfare, which includes creating the conditions that could reduce the stress by encouraging the natural behaviors. Provision of good ventilation and clean air is crucial for prevention of respiratory issues. An adequate floor space provision helps in preventing vices like pecking and fighting. The birds’ welfare ensures the natural light exposure for their well-being and biological rhythms. Rearing the breeds suitable to their surroundings should also be given precedence. There should be the judicious antibiotic use in order to avoid antibiotic resistance. Keeping these welfare principles in consideration ensures healthier and happier birds in a sustainable poultry production.

Vertical Integration

Vertical Integration (VI) in poultry farming encompasses the integration across various production stages, spanning from breeding and feed production to processing and distribution. This approach holds potential benefits for sustainable poultry production, including improved operational efficiency through streamlined processes, reduced transportation needs with optimized resource utilization. Additionally, vertical integration ensures enhanced bio-security by providing integrated control across various stages with minimal risk of disease outbreaks and reducing reliance on antibiotics. The integration also contributes to traceability and transparency, facilitating the tracking of birds and products throughout the production chain, thereby aiding quality control and ethical sourcing. Standardized practices across large-scale integrators further support the implementation of consistent sustainable farming practices.

Economic sustainability

Economic sustainability is the backbone of a successful poultry industry. The adoption of these sustainable practices in a long-term is only feasible if poultry production is profitable for farmers. Efficient production practices in context of sustainable feed management and bird welfare can directly cut the costs related to wasted resources, medication overdo and disease outbreaks. Reduction of waste throughout the production phase, starting from feed utilization to waste/manure management, serves to cost savings and potentially supplementary profits streams through the formulation of important byproducts like fertilizer. Additionally, the fair market prices for various poultry products are fundamental. Sustainable production system often requires bigger upfront investments and fair market price ensuring that poultry farmers are satisfactorily remunerated for the supplementary costs and efforts related to these practices. As, supporting local food systems is a significant part of economic sustainability involving selling of poultry products directly to customers or local restaurants with reduced need for long-distance transport and linked fuel costs and gaseous emission. Also, local food systems authorize the small and medium-scale poultry farms, developing rural economic development and creating a more diverse and supple food supply chain.

Conclusion

Sustainable poultry production offers a convincing path ahead for the poultry industry. It emphasizes not only producing poultry products, but also doing it in such a way that could minimize the cost of production with efficient use of resources and reduced environmental impact, ensuring bird welfare and economic feasibility for farmers.

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