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°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.

Broadening Horizons N°20, August 2015

By Harinder P.S. Makkar, FAO, Rome

An FAO electronic conference on "Utilization of Food Loss and Waste as well as Non-Food Parts as Livestock Feed" will be held from 1 to 30 October 2015.

Broadening Horizons N°19, July 2015

By Àlex Bach, ICREA and IRTA, Barcelona, Catalonia

Providing the right combination of nutrients in the adequate amounts is the foundation for ensuring good animal performance, health, and welfare for calves, cows, beef and pasture-raised livestock.

Broadening Horizons N°18, June 2015

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

Defining the status (wet, non-pregnant; wet, pregnant; dry, pregnant; dry, non-pregnant) of milking cows in tropical dairy farms is a useful tool to manage feeding and herd management. Good observation skills and a regular collection of data are necessary to provide consistent supply of nutrients to sustain milk yields.

Broadening Horizons N°17, May 2015

By D. T. Pal and N. K. S. Gowda, National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, India

Organic sources of trace minerals play an important role in metabolic events in the body. In their organic form, minerals are protected from interactions with fibre, phytate, tannin and other susbtances. They have improved bioavailability and their use results in reduced environmental contamination.

Broadening Horizons N°16, March 2015

By Gerhard Flachowsky, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut

Plant breeding has large and strategic potential for global feed and food security. Both breeding technologies, conventional and genetic may contribute to solving important challenges, such as sustainable use of limited global resources, improved use of unlimited resources, adaption to climate change and lowering of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Broadening Horizons N°15, February 2015

By Pierre Dardenne (Walloon Agricultural Research Centre) and Paulo Salgado (CIRAD)

NIRS theory in a few words

Spectroscopy refers to the science dealing with the interactions between matter and light. In the infrared region (780 – 10 000 nanometers – Figure 1), the light hitting organic matter can be absorbed by the molecular vibrations at specific wavelengths depending on the chemical bonds (OH, CH, NH, etc.).

Broadening Horizons N°14, January 2015

By Harinder P.S. Makkar, FAO, Rome

On hearing jatropha (Jatropha curcas) two things come to mind:  it is an oil plant and its seeds are toxic. However, a non-toxic genotype of J. curcas exists in Mexico. Its seeds are consumed by people after roasting. Also after removal of the seed shells the kernel paste is used in local dishes in some parts of Mexico.

Broadening Horizons N°13, December 2014

By Celi P1,2, Chauhan SS2,  Cottrell JJ2, Dunshea FR2, Lean IJ1,3, Leury BJ2, Liu F2

As the demand for animal protein continue to increase, global animal production faces several challenges in order to meet these demands because of environmental challenges (global warming and climate change). Furthermore, the intensification of animal production systems might compromise animal health and welfare and consequently increase the incidence of the metabolic diseases. Ruminant health and production is crucial for a sustainable animal production system, and this area of research is now attracting international interest, especially the mechanisms by which antioxidant supplementation may influence metabolism and health.

Broadening Horizons N°12, September 2014

By Harinder P.S. Makkar, FAO, Rome


There has been a major shift to diets with increased consumption of animal products, and this change is likely to continue in the coming decade. The demand for meat and milk is expected to be 58% and 70% higher in 2050 than their levels in 2010 and a large part of this increase will originate from developing countries.

Broadening Horizons N°11, August 2014

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

According to a recent paper by Caro et al. published in Climatic Change, increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from livestock in developing countries was 117%, while the emission from developed countries decreased by 23% during the period 1960-2010.

Broadening Horizons N°10, July 2014

By John Moran*

The demand for dairy produce is growing worldwide. Unfortunately keeping dairy cows in tropical conditions in developing countries is fraught with risks to their welfare, and performance is usually well below that achieved in western countries. Although many developing countries are currently importing much of their dairy requirements from developed countries, most governments are also expanding their own dairy industries.

Broadening Horizons N°9, June 2014

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

Based on the papers presented and discussions held at the FAO-Wageningen UR conference on ‘Insects to feed the world’ convened in May this year, it is plausible to suggest that insect meals are promising future alternative feeds and a viable solution for the protein deficit problem.

Broadening Horizons N°8, May 2014

By Paula Kovalsky*

The occurrence of mycotoxins is a worldwide phenomenon that affects all kinds of commodities. The conditions under which these toxic substances are produced depend highly on two main factors: water availability and temperature that affect the life cycle of mycotoxigenic fungi. It seems that we are facing shifts in mycotoxin patterns as the world is experiencing climate changes. This much-discussed topic does not only imply temperature increase, but also increases in CO2 levels and high variability in weather conditions, including changes in precipitation patterns and frequent storms.

Broadening Horizons N°7, April 2014

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

Feed is the foundation of the livestock production, with feed costs generally accounting for up to 70% of the cost of production. Feed prices have been increasingly volatile due to negative impacts of natural disasters and climate change, as well as from increasing competition in the use of grains for feed, food and bio-fuel. Increasing demand of livestock products impose a huge demand on feed resources. Bio-physical factors such as scarcity of land, soil and water, food-fuel-feed competition, ongoing global warming, and increasing competition for arable land and non-renewable resources such as fossil sources and minerals are challenging the sustainability of feed production systems.

Broadening Horizons N°6, February 2014

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

Direct link exists between greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensities (emissions as CO2 equivalent per unit of product) and the efficiency with which natural resources are used. Therefore, to a large extent possible interventions to reduce emissions hinges on technologies and practices that improve production efficiency at animal and herd levels.

While mitigation interventions will need to be tailored to local objectives and conditions, currently available mitigation options are presented below.

Broadening Horizons N°5, January 2014

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

► Total emissions from global livestock is 7.1 Gigatonnes of CO2-equiv per year, representing 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission (GHG) emissions.

► Feed production and processing (this includes land use change) and enteric fermentation from ruminants – representing 45 and 39% of total emissions, respectively – are the two main sources of emission. Manure storage and processing represent 10%, and the remaining emissions are sourced to the processing and transportation of animal products.

Broadening Horizons N°4, December 2013

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

Globally, the production, processing and transport of feed account for about 45% of the green house gas (GHG) emission from livestock sector. At a species level, feed production constitutes 47% and 57% of emissions from pork and chicken supply chains, respectively. For cattle, small ruminants and buffalo, feed production contributes 36%, 36% and 28% of the total emissions respectively. For ruminants these values are relatively smaller because enteric methane comprises the dominant fraction of total emissions.

Broadening Horizons N°3, November 2013

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome

In 2011/12, of the total cereal production (2354.2 million tonnes), 33.7% were used for feed and 45.3% for food.

For 2012/13 the estimated values are: total production 2309.8 million tonnes; feed use 34.4% and food use 46.9%.

In 2011/12, of the total wheat production (701.5 million tonnes), 20.9% were used for feed and 67.2% for food.

For 2012/13 the estimated values are: total production 659.1 million tonnes; feed use  20.2% and food use 72.0% .