The concept of ‘sustainability’ or ‘sustainable development’ is multi-dimensional, encompassing economic, environmental, social, and institutional governance aspects. The theoretical framework for this article on sustainability in poultry production is built on this multi-dimensional understanding of the concept, acknowledging that it is complex and contested. It is challenging to analyse or discuss the sustainability of one single sector within agriculture, because this sector is part of a global food system, and a systems approach is necessary. This article gives examples of elements which link to one or more of the four aspects, e.g., pollution and antibiotic use, biodiversity (environmental aspects), conditions for farm workers and animal welfare (social aspects), governance of the food chain (institutional aspects), and the development of poultry from a valuable food to a cheap staple food throughout major parts of the world (economic aspects). There are numerous potential pathways for sustainable development of poultry production. Poultry are living, sentient animals that can be well integrated into many different types of urban and rural farming systems, where they benefit from and contribute to such systems and to the livelihood of households around the globe, with special emphasis on women. Furthermore, local production provides potential for production with minimum transport and, concomitantly, minimum usage of fossil fuels. Among the terrestrial animals, poultry has the best conversion rate of feed to human food and the smallest environmental footprint in terms of energy and water use per kg meat or eggs produced.