Animal feed resources information system

NIRS for feed and soil analysis in developing countries

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.).

Do you know of a non-toxic Jatropha and its merit as animal feed?

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.

Oxidative stress in ruminants: enhancing productivity through antioxidant supplementation

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.

Insect meals as animal feed

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.

Understanding cow behaviour to improve their welfare on smallholder dairy farms

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.

Climate change and mycotoxin prevalence

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.

Animal Feed and Feeding: R&D Priorities for NENA

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.

Practices that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock sector

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.