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How can we reduce the environmental impact of animal productions?

Pollution generated by livestock farms is likely to increase due to growing meat consumption resulting from the growing world population. With all this in mind, how can we better reconcile animal production with environmental issues?


Agriculture as a whole generates about 50% of methane emissions. Animal production is given particular blame for  increases in greenhouse gases emissions leading to global warming. The core concerns are methane rejections stemming from the ruminal fermentation of herbivore animals and, to a lesser extent, from animal excrement. These factors also degrade water surface quality by  releasing phosphate residues in water, along with trace elements (copper, zinc) and nitrates. The most obvious sign of this pollution is the accumulation of green algae on seashores:  in 2011, more than 53 000 tons of green algae were collected to be processed.Yet the increase in world population, expected to reach 11 billion by 2050 (compared to 7 billion in 2010), poses an even greater concern, when combined with an expected increase in per capita meat consumption.
However, taking note of these trends we can act to increase feed efficiency, thus limiting the impact of a global increase in meat consumption.

 

Ongoing research to adjust feed intakes to animals’ requirements

Reducing the polluting effects of dejections requires that we attain a tighter alignment between feed nutrient intakes and animals’ actual requirements. In order to do this, we must be able to accurately assess the composition of raw materials, nutrient digestibility (especially of amino acids, phosphorus, and calories) and the  effects of technological treatments... These ungoing measurements need to be performed in experimental stations.The various needs at stake also have to be considered, including those relating to animals’ needs at each stage of their growth, farmers’ and industrial needs and the demands of the market. For example, an unweaned piglet, a weaned piglet, a growing pig and a finishing pig,all have differing nutritional requirements. As for consumer expectations, these vary according to qualitative parameters (demand for organic food, for food enriched in Omega 3, nutraceuticals, etc.), economical ones (favoring cheap food), geographic variables(the country's level of development) as well as the religious or cultural requirements of consumers.

 

What are the solutions available to improve feed efficiency?

Limiting the impact of animal productions also requires improving feed efficiency: in 1950, 6 kg of feed were necessary to produce a 2kg- chicken within 45 days. Currently, we can  produce the same chicken with 4 kg of feed within 35 days, which is equivalent to a 50%  gain in feed efficiency and a proportional reduction of pollutant rejections. This substantial improvement is the fruit of various factors:  genetic improvement, precision nutrition (digestible amino acids, enzymes, etc.) and the use of additives such as plant extracts, essential oils as growth promoters in replacement of antibiotics. These achievements have been made possible thanks to the development of a sophisticated craft requiring both knowledge and expertise.
 

The TECHNA Group, through its feed expertise unit, assists feed manufacturers and actors of the feed nutrition sector seeking to reduce the environmental impact of animal production. Their goal is to craft solutions designed to rationalize production. For more information please do not hesitate to contact our experts!

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