“Sustainability has been an important issue for our companies for many years,” says Robin Irvine, Managing Director of the Grain Trade Association.
The sector’s remarkable success and growth in livestock production have only been possible by developing sophisticated nutritional packages and focusing on reducing emissions to air and water. “Precision Nutrition is the mantra – because our goal is to precisely determine the nutrient requirements for growth and production for the various ages and stages of the livestock and then to supply them with exactly the nutrients that support them. Avoiding an oversupply of nutrients reduces the potential for the excretion of surpluses in the form of ammonia, greenhouse gases and phosphates, which can damage the environment and cause unnecessary costs for the farm. “
This approach was supported by extensive research programs funded by trade and carried out by the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).
“We were able to determine the long-term effects of dietary changes on the health and productivity of the animals and thereby achieve greater efficiency in the rationing of livestock. The use of enzymes has been particularly effective in improving nutrient utilization, and synthetic amino acids have been used to good effect in reducing the protein content in the diet. Management of food retardant contaminants in the supply chain has improved a lot with the introduction of the Food Fortress monitoring program. This identifies substances such as mycotoxins that affect performance and feed efficiency, and advises feed companies on effective mitigation strategies.
“The continuous genetic improvement and productivity gains from improved housing and management practices also contribute to significant improvements in feed efficiency. Measures that extend the productive life of a dairy cow – or reduce the age at slaughter of cattle – will help reduce emissions from the ruminant sector while making a significant contribution to the profitability of the farm.
“Local companies are leading the way in developing innovative feed additives and feeding methods that have the greatest potential to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cattle production. Adjustments to the cattle diet, such as achieving an optimal balance of concentrate and feed, as well as the use of feed additives and food supplements, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“There are several methane-reducing feed additives on the market, including products based on garlic and citrus fruits, clover and coriander seeds, 3-nitrooxypropanol and algae. The emission reduction potential of the various technologies ranges from 10% to 90%, and all are fully evaluated and calculated. Feed scientists are committed to sustainable animal production and continue to work on refining and improving these products and looking for new approaches that will lead to further reductions in the years to come. “