Environmental Impacts of Livestock Feed


Global meat consumption, in particular consumption of poultry meat, is on the rise, historically driven by population growth and shifting dietary preferences in emerging economies such as China and Brazil. This rise in demand has resulted in a global increase in livestock production, which has placed significant strain on the environment – livestock production contributes 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and uses 8% of global water supply.

3Keel was commissioned by WWF-UK to provide an overview of the environmental impact of the global production of livestock feed. Using a combination of desk-based research and interviews with WWF staff and experts, 3Keel summarised the environmental impacts of livestock feed, identifying future trends and key stakeholders.

The report focuses on crop production for feed, as crops make up a significant proportion of feed inputs, and could be directed to human consumption. The current literature tends to focus heavily on the impact of soy production in the Amazon region, looking mainly at deforestation. 3Keel decided to take a more holistic view, looking at the impact of other important feed crops, such as maize, on key eco-regions of the world. Geo-spatial data was used to model the interaction between current and predicted maize production and priority eco-regions, water basins and rivers.

The final report analysed possible interventions to reduce the impact of livestock feed on the environment, classifying them according to their likely effectiveness. Based on this analysis, we provided recommendations to WWF-UK on potential future work in this area.

Project lead

Richard Sheane

WWF-UK worked very closely with 3Keel to develop and progress the work. The rappore and close cooperation was exceptional and led to some excellent outputs that we are now using to develop future strategy. We would have no hesitation in contracting 3Keel again to work on future projects.

Piers Hart – Global Lead for Aquaculture, WWF