Future of animal feed

This is a space to track innovations to feed farmed animals more sustainably, as part of our project The Protein Challenge 2040.

What we feed farmed animals is not a particularly sexy or prominent topic in the wider world. But it should be. Over the last 60 years, farmed cattle, chickens, pigs and fish have increasingly been fed on grains, soy and fishmeal. Feed production and processing accounts for 45% of the carbon footprint of livestock production.

Large swathes of the rainforest are disappearing so that we can plant soy, 75% of which is then fed to animals. Complicating the picture further is the fact that 85% of the world’s soy comes from only four countries – the US, Brazil, Argentina and China.

Should climate change hit these soy producing areas hard, the knock on effects on protein industries the world over will be profound and unsettling. Aquaculture comes into the equation, too: we are rapidly depleting stocks of fish used as fishmeal and fish oil, and increasingly feeding fish what we feed chickens. Many of these feedstocks are high-quality sources of protein that could be used to feed humans, particularly in places where protein deficiency is common.

This is a space to track innovations to feed farmed animals more sustainably, as part of our project The Protein Challenge 2040.

What we feed farmed animals is not a particularly sexy or prominent topic in the wider world. But it should be. Over the last 60 years, farmed cattle, chickens, pigs and fish have increasingly been fed on grains, soy and fishmeal. Feed production and processing accounts for 45% of the carbon footprint of livestock production.

Large swathes of the rainforest are disappearing so that we can plant soy, 75% of which is then fed to animals. Complicating the picture further is the fact that 85% of the world’s soy comes from only four countries – the US, Brazil, Argentina and China.

Should climate change hit these soy producing areas hard, the knock on effects on protein industries the world over will be profound and unsettling. Aquaculture comes into the equation, too: we are rapidly depleting stocks of fish used as fishmeal and fish oil, and increasingly feeding fish what we feed chickens. Many of these feedstocks are high-quality sources of protein that could be used to feed humans, particularly in places where protein deficiency is common.

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