Getting Ready For A Changing Climate - Industry Perspectives Dialogue with Feedinfo

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Article | 07.01.2024
Feedinfo Industry Perspectives Dialogue 19.12.2023

At the COP28 Climate Summit held over the last few weeks, the role of food production was unusually prominent, with significant commitment among important agricultural states to incorporate food and agriculture into their own climate plans, as well as funding to help the agri-food industry with its green transition. 

This transition cannot happen without the commitment of the animal nutrition and health industry. Improving the productivity of livestock is the most important lever for reducing its greenhouse gas footprint, and innovation will increasingly be necessary to keep animals healthy in a warming world. Today, we are joined by Stefaan Bekaert, Global Sustainability Manager for animal health firm Huvepharma and Ainhoa Perojo Gutierrez, Head of Global Commercial Development for Beef and Dairy at microbial solutions firm Chr. Hansen, to discuss how a changing climate will affect animal production, what kinds of solutions will be needed to adapt to it, and how they have committed to reducing the climate impacts of their own operations. 


[Feedinfo] How will animal nutrition, health, and production need to adapt to a changing climate? For example, what kinds of animal health and productivity challenges will become more common, what feed ingredients will need to be replaced or developed, etc?

[Ainhoa Perojo Gutiérrez, Chr. Hansen] Predicting what the future could bring us is not easy. However, we can all imagine that the prevalence of parasites and diseases may rise, requiring robust health management strategies and disease-resistant animal breeds. It is also expected that heat stress will become more common, necessitating genetic selection for individuals that are more heat-tolerant and feeds that reduce the production of metabolic heat, if possible. Water scarcity will require more efficient water usage and diets and operations that optimise water consumption.

We do not need to imagine a future where climate change is affecting raw material availability, as we have that situation now. That is why we could expect that raw materials that are more sustainable and climate-resilient will become available. Drought-resistant crops or by-products from food production that are currently not utilised efficiently could become part of our future animal diets. Nutritional adaptations will also need to focus on maintaining productivity under fluctuating environmental conditions. 

In this context, nutrition as it is understood today, will change and new nutritional concepts will develop to support farmers to be on top of future challenges in a profitable way, and we aim to be part of that journey with our solutions.


[Stefaan Bekaert, Huvepharma] The changing climate poses challenges for animal nutrition, health, and production, requiring adaptation in several areas. One of the key aspects is the need to address the impact of climate change on animal health. Climate change can lead to increases in parasite infestation and vector-borne diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis, as well as the occurrence of extreme weather events like droughts and floods, which can affect animal production. 

Additionally, there is increased pressure on natural resources due to competition for land, water and feed. This necessitates the development of more efficient animal production systems to optimise resource utilisation. For example, genetic selection and improved feed formulations can help reduce the environmental footprint of the industry.

Overall, adapting to a changing climate in animal nutrition, health, and production involves implementing strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on animal health, improving resource efficiency, enhancing biosecurity measures, and monitoring and managing the spread of disease.


[Feedinfo] What innovations do you have to help clients face climate-related challenges? In what sorts of climate-friendly technologies are you focusing your R&D attention going forward?

[Stefaan Bekaert, Huvepharma] We foresee that livestock production will continue to evolve towards more sustainable production systems which also address climate change and which will contribute to greater consumer acceptance. Huvepharma's product development is largely focused around these new trends, which is already reflected across the product offering:

Animal health

Huvepharma offers a wide range of products that can be used to address climate related health challenges. For example, in poultry, it is well documented that coccidiosis has a huge impact on bird health and feed efficiency, and we recently demonstrated that even a low presence of coccidiosis has a huge impact. Applying an effective coccidiosis control strategy is therefore crucial. With Huvepharma's uniquely comprehensive anticoccidial portfolio, we can offer each producer the best control program for their facilities.


Good feed digestibility not only leads to economic benefits and improvements in animal health but also reduces environmental impact. Exogenous enzymes, such as phytases and carbohydrases help livestock to better utilise the nutrients in existing and alternative feed raw materials. These additional nutrients can either be used to enhance performance, or to reformulate diets to reduce feed costs.

The flexible use of alternative feed materials presents a challenge for gut health management, possibly resulting in enteric problems. Enteric issues are still one of the major health problems faced by producers and lead to suboptimal performance. With feed additives such as B-Act and Top Gut (probiotics), and Clarity Q (saponin), the gut environment can be stabilised, even when switching between raw materials.


Disease outbreaks which jeopardise animal health and welfare will always be a cause for concern for producers. Huvepharma continues to invest in promoting the responsible use of medicines to prevent antibiotic resistance and maintain animal welfare.

To make corrections and improvements in production performance you first need to measure and follow-up on various parameters. Huvepharma invests a lot in developing services to help support livestock professionals. For example, Aviapp(R), a digital health monitoring system for broiler, layer, and turkey producers, allows producers to structurally monitor, analyse and follow-up on the health status and performance of their flocks. The data gathered can be interpreted, leading to better decision making to improve health status, production performance and welfare levels. Aviapp(R) can be set up to alert producers of potential health or other issues. This early intervention improves animal welfare while also improving efficiency. 

Other apps such as the Huvepharma vet dose calculator and the biosecurity app also help in the responsible use and application of medicines and hygiene products.


[Ainhoa Perojo Gutiérrez, Chr. Hansen] In addressing climate-related challenges, our innovations in the area of probiotic science play a pivotal role. At the forefront of these innovations is our commitment to supporting the normal health and well-being of animals through the daily feeding of effective probiotics. This approach not only addresses the physical and mental well-being of the flocks in our care but also significantly contributes to environmental sustainability, a key aspect in tackling climate-related challenges.

One of our primary innovations designed to help producers understand climate-related challenges is the development and implementation of a sophisticated climate impact calculator. This tool is specifically tailored for broiler production. It enables producers to accurately assess the potential carbon savings at the farm level when using our probiotic solutions. By providing clear and quantifiable measurement of the environmental impact, this tool enables producers to make more informed decisions that align with their sustainability goals and regulatory requirements.

Our research and development (R&D) efforts are primarily focused on advancing climate-friendly technologies in the field of probiotics. Recognising the significant impact of livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption, our R&D is geared towards enhancing feed efficiency and reducing waste through the development of more potent and targeted probiotic strains. Improved feed efficiency directly translates to lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of meat or egg produced, thus contributing to a reduction in the overall environmental footprint of animal production.

Additionally, we are exploring the development of probiotics that can thrive in diverse environmental conditions. This adaptability is crucial in mitigating the effects of climate change, which often results in fluctuating and extreme environmental conditions. By ensuring the effectiveness of probiotics across a range of climates, we aim to provide consistent benefits in terms of animal health and environmental sustainability. 

Looking forward, our focus is on the continued expansion of the application of probiotics beyond current application across different animal species, such as ruminants and monogastric animals. This expansion is crucial, as these species also play a significant role in the agricultural sector and have a notable impact on the environment. By continuing to develop probiotic solutions tailored to the specific needs of these animals, we aim to further reduce the ecological footprint of livestock production. 

Moreover, we are investing in the exploration of new biological pathways and mechanisms through which probiotics can positively support animal health and environmental sustainability. This includes research into the microbiome and its interaction with the host, as well as the potential of probiotics in reducing the reliance on antibiotics, thus contributing to a more sustainable and responsible approach to animal health management.


[Feedinfo] What are you at your company doing to help improve the sustainability of your own operations?

[Stefaan Bekaert, Huvepharma] Huvepharma is taking very significant steps to improve the sustainability of its own operations in the following ways. 

  1. Investments in renewable energy - Huvepharma has committed to investing €200 million in solar panels, geothermal power plants, and other renewable energy sources. We already operate a solar plant with a capacity of 75 MW and plan to increase this to 300 MW by 2030, which will result in one of the larger solar farms covering approximately 300 ha, equivalent to the energy supply for 300,000 households.
  2. Decarbonising production facilities - We are in the process of decarbonising our production facilities by relying on our own energy production from renewable sources. We are implementing measures to reduce our carbon footprint and address indirect emissions (scope 3) by engaging partners upstream and downstream in the value chain.
  3. Circular economy and waste management - Huvepharma has integrated modernised wastewater treatment (WWT) plants, exhaust air filtration installations and incinerator plants into their manufacturing facilities to reduce our environmental impact. We utilise waste materials and biomass to produce steam for our production processes. We also focus on accountable resource use and waste management to minimise our environmental footprint.
  4. Algal-based omega-3 production - We have established HuveNutraceuticals, a joint venture for the large-scale production of vegan omega-3 algal oils. This sustainable production method avoids the depletion of fish stocks and does not contain harmful compounds such as PCBs or dioxins.
  5. Environmentally friendly packaging - We use packaging materials that are safer for the environment and reduce waste, such as paper bags and water-soluble packaging. We aim to minimise plastic usage and reduce our carbon footprint even further.
  6. Energy efficiency and resource optimisation - Huvepharma continuously assesses and improves its production processes, including lighting systems, to minimise waste and reduce reliance on finite energy resources. We strive to optimise resource inputs and reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability and our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment throughout our operations.


[Ainhoa Perojo Gutiérrez, Chr. Hansen] At Chr. Hansen sustainability is an integral part of our strategy, culture, purpose and product offering. We strive to be a sustainability leader and have been ranked among the world's most sustainable companies for five consecutive years by Corporate Knights. Our sustainability strategy is two-fold: 

  • On the one hand we constantly work to have our house in order - this implies decarbonising our own operations, working to progress on social issues such as diversity and safety, and lastly ensuring strong governance processes. 
  • On the other hand, our products help us leave a positive mark in society, allowing us to be a sustainability enabler and help our customers fight food waste and get more out of less.

Every year we bring safe, healthy, and tasty food to global consumers. With our probiotics, we also support human health and well-being, making us one of the few companies that can be your partner in the full value chain.


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