Sustainability in animal husbandry together with Fancom

Increasing the sustainability of their operations is a priority for pig and poultry producers. The aim is to transform into a sustainable, socially acceptable livestock sector. Central to sustainability are issues such as animal welfare, animal health, and public health and the environment. But stakeholder management - how farming is viewed in relation to society, nature and the environment - is also key.

The sector is constantly engaged in increasing its sustainability. All the links in the chain participate: the meat sector, livestock farmers, the animal feed industry, but also the government and social organisations and movements. The common goal is a leading, integral sustainable livestock production sector that produces food for competitive prices, with respect for people, animals and the planet.

Conflicting aims

The sector is certainly facing a massive challenge as a number of these aims are conflicting. Animal-friendly housing systems, for example, cause a larger carbon footprint per kilogram of product In other words, granting animals more freedom of movement is good for their welfare, but the downside is higher feed consumption. In the case of eggs, the carbon footprint of eggs from free-range hens and hens with outdoor access is 12 and 13% higher respectively than the carbon footprint of eggs laid by hens kept in cage housing systems. The carbon footprint of organic eggs is 37% higher. (source: ABN Amro)

Feed has a significant impact on sustainability

The feed used accounts for the greatest impact on the total carbon footprint. Up to the point the animals or eggs leave the farm, more than 80% of the emissions can be attributed to the feed. So, to a large extent, the key to reducing the carbon footprint is feed and the raw materials used to make feed. It is vital to create a balance between the environmental impact and the feeding value - i.e. the nutritional quality. The main issue is not so much how many kilograms of feed are used, but rather the energy, proteins (amino acids), minerals and vitamins that are available for the animals. Feed with a low carbon footprint per kilogram of digestible protein or energy can be counterproductive to reducing emissions.

The demands placed on animal feed lead to higher prices. A higher digestible energy content means feed is more expensive. This equally applies to demands to reduce the carbon footprint. This demand often leads to soy and soybean meal being replaced by other protein-rich raw materials such as sunflower meal or rapeseed meal. (source: ABN Amro)

Stakeholder management

The debate on mega-houses and factory-scale farms is a clear sign that the path towards social acceptance is not always smooth. There are numerous cause of farmers being taken to court because of nuisance caused by odours and noise emitted from the houses. There are also various activists and movements that aim to prevent the growth of mega-houses. 

Mega-houses or not, the increasing urban encroachment and number of housing developments on (former) woodland or agricultural land means that farmers and their neighbours must take their lifestyles and professional interests into account.

Sustainability of systems

In addition to the impact livestock farming has on humans, animals, the immediate surroundings and the environment, the transition towards sustainability also implies that the products we buy must be durable and suitable for a long, problem-free service life. In view of the high investment costs of equipment, and the cost of resolving malfunctions, using high quality material is vital.

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The different components that create the climate in a house have an undeniable impact on the sustainability of a house. Fancom is a trendsetter in the economical use of scarce resources. For example, many of the fans are equipped with an intelligent motor that adjusts automatically according to how much ventilation is required. This motor does not consume electricity unnecessarily. The climate computers synchronise operation of the equipment to prevent, for example, lighting being activated at night and heating and cooling simultaneously. This also avoids unnecessary energy use. The air inlets and outlets guarantee sufficient levels of minimum ventilation by allowing fresh air to enter the house, but excluding cold outside air that needs to be heated.

Read more about our climate systems


Feeding systems

Similar to climate control, the feeding system can make a concrete contribution to achieving sustainability goals. As stated earlier, feed plays a major role in the amount of emissions. Ensuring each animal is given the correct feed in the correct quantity helps reduce the carbon footprint Older animals do not need feed with the same high protein content as young animals. Especially as they consume larger portions of feed, switching to an alternative will have a less damaging impact on the environment

Preventing feed being wasted is also important Only feeding on demand when the animal is hungry, and offering small portions, guarantees fresh feed and stops waste. Fancom's feed computers can make a significant contribution to reducing feed waste.

Read more about our feeding systems



Fancom sees these sustainability developments as a challenge to create solutions that will enable animal-friendly meat production using the latest in modern technology. We place the focus on the individual animal and use - alongside our climate and feeding systems - new sensor technology to collect as much data as possible from the house. The signals given by the animal tell us how it feels, and we only intervene if things do not go according to plan. This is our way of measuring progress in sustainability and allows farmers to demonstrate the gains they have made.

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