Who Grows More and Consumes Less? Chicken

With regard to the sustainability of poultry farming, it is noticeable that companies in the sector communicate poorly or not at all what are instead their good practices that should be disseminated with generosity, clarity and precision.

We are in an era in which the demand to respect the planet’s resources is growing exponentially and people, starting with the young, are rightly demanding to know, to act and to stimulate behaviour to protect our Planet from the announced probable future disasters.

The issue is not so simple to put into practice, especially since there are so many of us to agree on … indeed there are more and more of us. Today (2023) some 8 billion of us.

And while we try to find virtuous models of behaviour, to adopt them and have them applied by companies as well, we must at the same time support our food appetites.

One of the sectors that has been investigating for the longest time how to cope with the future of the ever-increasing demand for food is the poultry sector. One of the reasons is that chickens and eggs are among the foods best suited to meet the increasingly pressing universal need for access to inexpensive, healthy and nutritious food.

Since poultry farming began on a large scale some 70 years ago, the focus of the industry has been on efficiency, also referred to as ‘yield’. From the very beginning, for the typical economic issue at the heart of any enterprise, raising a chicken had to be profitable for both the farmer and the consumer. Every farm must be simultaneously less wasteful and more efficient in raising chickens while ensuring their health. If a chicken is not healthy, it is an economic loss and a lost source of healthy nutrition.

It is this business necessity, to put it briefly, that has forced the farmers themselves to operate with respect for animal welfare, an activity that has developed into a maniacal attention to detail to respect the needs of the animal.


Those who think that livestock farms are places of martyrdom, should consider that the better the farming conditions, the healthier the food produced and the more the farmer will be remunerated

Raising an animal in a healthy way, providing clean water, healthy food and comfort, is the only way to feed billions of people with safe food.

It should also be pointed out that the poultry industry is basically divided into two macro ‘sections’:  breeding and farming.

Those involved in selective breeding observe and measure the animals while they drink, eat and live together to identify the strongest and therefore healthiest individuals with behaviours naturally inclined to drink and eat less than others while growing like others.

These animals are then selected, destined for reproduction through which they pass on their characteristics to their heirs. Reproduction provides a new generation of animals that carry these natural characteristics with them … and so on.

It is clear that selective breeding is the main generator of the potential that then makes a multiplication/breeding farm more sustainable precisely because its ‘inhabitants’ derive from that specific selection.

On the other hand, those in charge of multiplication/breeding represent the rest of the chain and see to it that the selected animals are raised respecting their natural characteristics and needs, which are supported by providing the animal with the best environmental and nutritional conditions for its natural growth.


Why does the chicken grow more and consume less?

Without going too far back in the history of modern poultry farming, we can highlight what has happened in the last 15 years (from 2003 to 2018) in both Europe and America: the care given to chickens reared with respect for their welfare has enabled the industry to significantly reduce its environmental impact. Let us say at the outset that every activity has an environmental impact.

Chicken production in the World has minimised its environmental impact and continues to reduce it every year through continuous innovation, ensuring the best possible health of chickens through research and selection that significantly reduces the use of water, farmland, electricity, greenhouse gases and other valuable resources.

For example, today (2022) compared to 1965, poultry production:

  • has 50% less impact to produce the same numbers as in 1965
  • requires 75% fewer resources
  • has reduced its impact on greenhouse gas emissions by 36%;
  • reduced the amount of agricultural land used by 72%;
  • reduced the water used by 58% (working on waste reduction).

The industry proves to be much more concerned with sustainability than the various environmental associations claim. Compared to any other livestock industry, poultry production has a very small environmental footprint and poultry farming is continuing to develop and advance sustainable practices to continuously improve them.

However, it is necessary to realise that concerted action is needed so that everything mankind has to do to survive can be done while minimising its footprint on the Earth.

Animal welfare is certainly an issue to be addressed. Farmers, breeders and professionals in the sector, while having always done so and having it as an ethical and operational priority, are instead constantly faced with unfounded denunciations by manipulators of the truth. Choosing what to eat is always a personal choice, which makes one neither better nor worse than those who make different choices. To live, we must feed ourselves and more and more of us have to do so.

Many, but not all, also have the privilege of being able to choose how to feed themselves. Let us think about this. Because when we take any position on these issues, it is also a duty to choose to document ourselves from reliable sources to avoid ‘feeding’ … media terrorism.

For those who would like to have clear, scientific and reliable answers to the doubts and accusations they see spread about how a breeding farm works, we would like to remind you that the editorial staff of M.A.C. is always available to provide answers to precise questions in private. In the meantime, we recommend that you consult the document you will find at this link:


Link to document “AvendanoEtAl17Poultry beyond 2023Avendanoetal_FINAL NZ”


The editorial staff of M.A.C.