Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
REVIEW

Smart livestock feeding strategies for harvesting triple gain – the desired outcomes in planet, people and profit dimensions: a developing country perspective

Harinder P. S. Makkar
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Livestock Production Systems Branch, Animal Production and Health Division, Rome, Italy.* Email: Harinder.Makkar@fao.org

Animal Production Science 56(3) 519-534 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15557
Submitted: 9 September 2015  Accepted: 23 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

Of the total greenhouse gas emission from the livestock sector, 45% relates to feed production and processing. Enteric methane (35%), land-use change (9%) and manure nitrous oxide and manure methane together (9.5%) are the other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which to a large extent depend on feed types. Inefficient use of feeds reduces profitability. Increasing future feed demand and food-feed-fuel competition have environmental and social impacts. The growth for demand in livestock products comes with social, economic and environmental challenges. This paper argues that the efficient utilisation of feed resources and application of appropriate feeding strategies are vital for strengthening the three conventional pillars of sustainability (environment, social and economic). Towards this end, it identifies and explores a series of promising innovations and practices in feed production and feeding including balanced and phased feeding; increase in the quality and level of use of forages in diets; reduction in use of grains; harvesting forages when nutrient availability per unit of land is maximum; targeted mineral feeding; reduction in feed losses; use of straw-based densified feed blocks; better recycling of human food wastes and human-inedible food components to feed; new business models for production and use of urea-ammoniated straws, urea-molasses blocks, forages and silages in smallholder farms; and use of underutilised locally available feed crops linked with strengthening of seed development and distribution infrastructure. The development of simple tools and on-site assays for correcting nutritional imbalances also offers interesting opportunities. Collection of data on feed availability at the national level, and generation of sound chemical composition and nutritional value data of feeds, are a prerequisite to innovate. The focus of the discussion will be on low-input livestock systems in developing world. A large number of livestock are found in such systems and small improvements can have high global impact. In addition to the technological aspects, policy and institutional building options required to realise large impact are also discussed.

Additional keywords: feed, feed efficiency, livestock sector, low-producing livestock production, sustainability.


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