What is animal nutrition?
The expertise in animal nutrition science is a key asset of the compound feed and premix industry.
To meet the EU domestic demand for safe, high-quality and healthy foodstuffs of animal origin (eggs, milk and meat), as well as to take advantage of growing export opportunities, the quality and safety of animal feed are key factors. To secure a reliable feed supply and improve the competitiveness of the livestock sector, the EU feed sector has explored new feed ingredients sources, such as co-products of the grain processing industry, with the goal of converting them into high value animal food products.
All these achievements can be attributed to a large extent to Animal Nutrition Science, which is about;
- Improving knowledge of the nutritional value of existing feed ingredients, by the continuous review of nutritional databases to reflect the impact of weather, geographical origin, processes undergone on the value of products, etc.;
- Determining better indicators of the animal nutritional requirements and the nutritional value of a feed: parameters used at the early ages of animal nutrition science were focussed on crude proteins, crude fats, crude fibre, minerals; nowadays, formulation of feed is based on digestible amino acids, bioavailability of minerals, net energy, etc.;
- Identifying interactions between feed ingredients, nutritional constituents and optimising their combination to meet animals demand;
- Identifying anti nutritional factors and defining strategies to neutralise/eliminate them;
- Studying the impact of feed composition on the quality and composition of food of animal origin;
- Studying effect of certain micro-ingredients (enzymes, gut flora stabilisers, etc.) and processes (grinding, pelleting, conditioning, coating, rumen protection etc.) on animal performance, health, welfare, quality of animal products and environmental impact.
Animal nutrition science has proved its ability to contribute significantly to nutrient efficient livestock production, fostering the safety and dietary quality of animal products for human consumption, enhancing the animal health and welfare status of farm animals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and land use linked to livestock production on a unit product base (e.g. per litre of milk or kg of meat and eggs). A typical example is the reduction of the feed conversion rate for the production of poultry meat, which decreased by more than 20% in the last 40 years.