Feed Bites

Feed Innovation Can Lower Environmental Footprints

Written by: Lara Moody   |   June 8, 2023

IFEEDER, Environmental footprint

Feedstuff production on the farm may be a leading source of the environmental footprint for livestock, poultry, horses and pets, but it doesn’t mean it will be the best solution for reducing it. Regenerative agriculture, climate-smart practices and efforts to improve soil health are agricultural practices that receive a lot of attention by stakeholders for reducing animal feed’s footprint, but I would argue that we must give equal attention to some of the animal food industry innovations in the pipeline that will offer solutions as well.  

Innovation in the animal food industry can mean a variety of things: additives, ingredients, animal health, production strategies, and more. Yet, we often don’t quantify or communicate the environmental benefits that can be linked to these innovations when they exist and are implemented. 

For example, if an ingredient or additive in an animal’s diet improves the feed conversion efficiency (i.e. the total weight of the feed divided by the net production), that could translate to a reduction in feed volume or an improvement in animal health or production efficiency could lead to fewer days to market. Each step of the way offers an opportunity for the animal food industry to reduce the environmental footprint for our customers, but we’re not out there actively telling that story. 

The Institute for Feed Education and Research is working to change that. IFEEDER is launching its phase two sustainability efforts. Based on industry and stakeholder input from last year’s Sustainability Road Map work and Feed Systems Sustainability Summit, we’ve identified a series of objectives aimed at advancing the role and recognition of animal food as a sustainability solution for our customers. The objectives include: 

  • Defining data needs and identifying indicators to pursue to support our customer’s needs. 

  • Quantifying and communicating the environmental benefits of animal food innovations. 

  • Supporting lifecycle assessment (LCA) development and use. 

You can learn more about these objectives on our website here

IFEEDER is currently seeking funds to support this work. If your organization would like to be involved and contribute to the effort, please comment below. To be successful, we need support and input from all sectors and all sizes of members in the feed industry.  

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