Animal feed resources information system

Broadening horizons

Broadening horizons is a monthly column written by feed specialists focused on scientific developments in animal feeds and feeding.


Broadening Horizons N°40, April 2017

By Harinder Makkar, FAO

Against the backdrop of ongoing climate change, frequent and long droughts, and land degradation, cactus has a special place in future sustainable food production systems in dry areas. This article provides a summary of the value of cactus in feeding strategies for drier places and as a climate-smart agricultural practice.

Broadening Horizons N°39, March 2017

By Carolyn Opio, FAO

The unique ability of ruminants to use high roughage feedstuffs is obtained through a symbiosis between the ruminant and the diverse ruminal populations of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and methanogens. The feed consumed by the animal provides nutrients to rumen microorganisms. During the microbial fermentation, both useful (e.g. microbial mass and short chain fatty acids) and waste (e.g. methane and carbon dioxide) products are produced. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and a pollutant. Methane production by ruminant is however variable, highly dependent on the quality of feeds. This paper, in addition to presenting global methane production scenarios, illustrates how methane emissions could be reduced and animal productivity enhanced from different dairy cattle production systems in a country.

Broadening Horizons N°38, February 2017

By Paula Kovalsky, BIOMIN

Mycotoxins and multi-mycotoxin occurrences are a global threat. They can be present from field to storage facilities. This paper, resulting from a long-term survey of animal feeds for toxins produced by fungi, provides an overview of the incidence of mycotoxins in the world in 2015 and 2016. This paper also points out the fact that toxicological interactions between mycotoxins may enhance their toxicological effects on animals. Mycotoxins thus require constant monitoring and permanent research to prevent and mitigate their harmful effects on animals.

Broadening Horizons N°37, January 2017

By Vishnu Sharma and Sanjita Sharma, Rajasthan University of Veterinary & Animal Science

With the increasing demand for livestock products there is an increasing need for adequate, safe, and wholesome feed materials for the animal. Surveillance of animal feed comes as a first critical point to deliver safe animal derived-foods. Following the paradigm of One Health concept for human and animal populations, as a joint initiative between FAO, WHO and OIE and the objectives of an integrated food safety control system from farm to table, risk assessment methodologies present now an integrated approach of the animal exposure and risk assessment, and a quantification of human exposure from animal-derived foods such as milk, meat and eggs, taking into account typical consumption patterns. This paper presents a list of the risks to be assessed in feeds, it underlines some of the gaps to be filled by future research, and it provides some suggestions for improving feed safety at global level.

Broadening Horizons N°36, December 2016

By Timothy Herrman (Texas A&M) and Harinder Makkar (FAO)

This proficiency programme highlights the global aflatoxin testing capability. It also reflects the priority in testing and managing aflatoxin risk in different regions of the world. For example, several activities including the Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing and Control in Africa (APTECA) programme by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the Laboratory Quality Systems online course offered by Texas A&M in collaboration with FAO, and several other FAO steps taken to assist adoption of good laboratory practices and laboratory quality control systems (FAO, 2016) contributed to the quality test results by participants from previously established laboratory networks. 

Broadening Horizons N°35, November 2016

By V. Baeten and P. Dardenne

The use of near-infrared (NIR) technologies for the detection of contaminants and undesirable substances in food and feed products is not widely practised. There have been many papers, however, on extensive studies on this topic (see Baeten et al., 2015). They have demonstrated some unique advantages of using this fingerprinting technique in the continuing effort to give the stakeholders the means to detect contaminants at all stages of the food and feed chains.

Broadening Horizons N°34, October 2016

By L.A. den Hartog, C.H.M. Smits, and W.H. Hendriks

The rapid development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human health care urges the need for effective strategies to reduce antibiotic use in animal production. The Netherlands and Denmark have already implemented successful strategies to reduce antibiotic usage in animal production. Part of the success of the reduction in antibiotic use may be attributed to the wide application of selected feed additives and combinations thereof targeting intestinal microbiota and immunity. Productivity and health responses can be obtained in animals similar to those reported for antimicrobial growth promoters by improving microbiological quality of drinking water and feed, stabilization of the intestinal microbiota and enforcement of the mucosal barrier of the host. Regulatory recognition of the prophylactic effects of feed additives in animal health should further facilitate the progress to reduce AMR.

Broadening Horizons N°33, September 2016

By N.K.S. Gowda, S. Anandan and D. T. Pal, ICAR- National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore 560 030, India

Pineapple fruit is processed for juice, jam and canned products for human consumption. Out of the whole fruit, only about 30% is edible and remaining 70% (crown, peels, pulp) is non-edible for human consumption. In India this crop is grown in about 90 000 hectares of land and 30–35% is processed in industries and more than 1.3 million ton of this non-edible residue is available annually and is being wasted. The pineapple fruit residue (PFR) contains high moisture (65–70%) and total sugar (>50%) making it susceptible for fungal growth and spoilage within 2 days. A study was undertaken at National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology (NIANP), Bangalore to improve the keeping quality of PFR through silage technology.

Broadening Horizons N°32, August 2016

By Dr John Moran, Profitable Dairy Systems, Kyabram, Victoria, Australia

The concept of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is not new. However it is when applied to quantifying the performance of farmers in the developing tropics. Expressed simply, KPIs are diagnostic tools allowing farmers to improve their farm productivity and hence their financial performance. Farmers can use them to identify weaknesses in, as well as set specific targets for, their farms. They are more likely to want to improve their systems if they know by how much they are less productive compared to others of similar herd sizes.

Broadening Horizons N°31, July 2016

By Harinder P. S. Makkar

Animal nutrition is the foundation of livestock production systems and a multifaceted theme. It is not only the science of feed preparation and feeding – it influences almost every sector of the livestock production – from animal reproduction, health and welfare – to farm economic viability, environment, animal product safety and quality. This paper intends to weave strands from these domains with animal nutrition and overall sustainability of the livestock operation.

Broadening Horizons N°30, June 2016

By Alan Bell and Paul Greenwood

It has been long known that severe undernutrition of pregnant cows and sheep, especially during late gestation, can permanently retard body and wool growth of their offspring. However, the idea that maternal nutrition at various stages of pregnancy can indelibly influence lifetime productivity and health of progeny has gained additional currency from more recent epidemiological studies of human populations and detailed experimental studies of rodents as well as livestock species.

Broadening Horizons N°29, May 2016

By N.K.S. Gowda, National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bengaluru 560 030, India

In many tropical areas, areca nut (Areca catechu) production has been steadily increasing at the expense of paddy rice. It results in less straw available to cattle and a new crop residue: areca sheath. Areca sheath, when properly processed, can be fed to ruminants: it provides valuable fodder and could reduce feed cost in India.

Broadening Horizons N°28, April 2016

By Jose C. B. Dubeux Jr., University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center, USA

In dry areas, harveting annual cash crops is risky. Perennial adapted crops are the best alternative to produce food for humans and feed for livestock. Livestock production systems mostly rely on rangelands. However, rangelands in arid and semiarid areas have only low productivity and the increasing stocking rate may lead to their degradation. Water is also a limiting factor. In this scenario, cactus (Opuntia and Nopalea) are one of the most promising fodder for livestock.

Broadening Horizons N°27, March 2016

By Harinder P. S. Makkar, FAO, Rome, Italy

Livestock account for approximately 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Demand for animal products is expected to increase by 60-70% in the coming approximately three decades, which could put further pressure on already depleting natural resources. The production, processing and transport of feed accounts for about 45% of the GHG emission from the livestock sector. There is thus a clear need to use smart feeding strategies, which could enhance resource use efficiency, increase animal productivity and reduce environmental "hoofprint". Some of such strategies are described in this paper. Many other examples are illustrated in Feedipedia datasheets.

Broadening Horizons N°26, February 2016

By Sejian, V., Gaughan, J. B., Raghavendra Bhatta and Naqvi, S. M. K.

Climate change will have an impact on livestock performance in many regions and as per most predictive models the impact will be detrimental. Animals will have to face weathers extremes, e.g. intense heat waves, floods and droughts and will also be offered less feeds or poorer quality feeds. This paper makes an attempt to project the adverse impact of climate change on livestock production and the potential way of alleviating it.

Broadening Horizons N°25, January 2016

By Christian Schader, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland

A global model system was designed in order to calculate various scenarios of food availability and impacts of food production on the environment. This model can be used in the future to answer various questions on the sustainability of agricultural and food systems.

Broadening Horizons N°24, December 2015

By Erasmus zu Ermgassen, University of Cambridge

As the EU faces both a deficit in protein sources for animal feed and calls to create a zero-waste, circular economy, there is a growing mandate to reconsider the ban on swill. Regulating, rather than prohibiting, the use of food waste as pig feed could safely produce high-quality pork, with substantial economic and environmental benefits.

Broadening Horizons N°23, November 2015

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Texas A&M (TAMU) are working together to deliver an aflatoxin proficiency testing programme. Registrations for this new free proficiency program are now open till 31th of december 2015.

Broadening Horizons N°22, October 2015

By J.-F. Hocquette (INRA) and L. I. Laestadius (Univ. Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Articificial meat made from cultured stem cells could be an alternative to traditional meat. It would need fewer farm animals and would address the challenge of producing enough meat for our increasing human population. However, production techniques still need to become more efficient and economically sustainable. Public receptiveness towards artificial meat is also ambivalent and other alternatives to enhance protein production within 25 years will have to be taken into account.

Broadening Horizons N°21, September 2015

By Harinder P.S. Makkar, FAO, Rome

The following 4 webinars are based on an FAO e-course and cover 16 modules/lessons tailored for extension workers, progressive farmers, technical staff of the producer organizations, students and teachers.

A short presentation of the course can be viewed here.