Animal feed resources information system

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Feedipedia: An on-line encyclopedia of animal feeds

Feedipedia is an open access information system on animal feed resources that provides information on nature, occurrence, chemical composition, nutritional value and safe use of nearly 1400 worldwide livestock feeds.

Feedipedia is a joint project of INRAE (formerly INRA-Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, French National Institute for Agricultural Research), CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, French Agricultural Research Center for International Development, AFZ (Association Française de Zootechnie, French Association for Animal Production) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

The main objective of Feedipedia is to provide extension and development workers, planners, project formulators, livestock farmers, science managers, policy makers, students and researchers with the latest scientific information to help them identify, characterize and properly use feed resources to sustainably develop the livestock sector. This is particularly important in emerging and developing countries where feed resources available locally are often under-utilized due to lack of information. Providing global knowledge on feed resources, including unconventional and lesser known ones, contributes to the development and use of innovative and appropriate feeding options and strategies.

Feeds datasheets contain the following information:

  • Feed names, including vernacular and scientific names
  • Description of the plants or plant parts/products used as feed
  • Feeding recommendations for the main livestock species: cattle, sheep, goats, camels, poultry, pigs, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
  • Tables of composition and nutritive value
  • Illustrations, including photos and processing charts
  • Distribution and basic agronomic information
  • Forage management
  • Processes for improving nutritional value
  • Potential constraints such as presence of anti-nutritional and toxic factors
  • Environmental impact of the production and use of feeds

Efficient use of feed resources is of paramount importance for a responsible livestock sector. Tables of feed composition and nutritive value are used to formulate balanced diets that meet animal requirements. In many industrialized countries, national feed tables have been available since long and are being updated on a regular basis. More recently, public and private feed databases have also been made available. In many emerging and developing countries, the consumption of animal products is increasing at a high rate. This demands accurate information on nutritional value of feed resources to formulate balanced rations. Although a large body of research data is published every year, it is rarely collated, analyzed, summarized and made available to potential users. The users in subtropical and tropical regions often have to rely on data obtained in temperate countries or use obsolete and unreliable sources. Also, feed resources found in tropical regions are different from those in temperate regions and, moreover, chemical composition and nutritive value of a given feedstuff when grown in temperate and tropical regions differ substantially.

Feedipedia is a world-wide compendium of up-to-date information on feed resources. The project covers feeds mainly available in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean regions but also includes common feeds used in temperate countries.

Contents and benefits

The project focuses on the following information:

  • Feed nomenclature and descriptions: names, physical characteristics, botanical origin, availability, processing in the case of agro-industrial by-products and environmental impacts of using the feed. Pictures are also available.
  • Feeding recommendations for major livestock species, including potential concerns and methods for improving feeding value.
  • Composition and nutritive values derived from feed databases and scientific literature.

For users, the following benefits are expected:

  • Better identification of feed resources and better appreciation of their nutritional values.
  • More opportunities for livestock in sustainable integrated farming systems.
  • Better use of good local feeding practices and less reliance on imported techniques and feed materials.

For researchers, the information should:

  • Contribute to the development of appropriate feeding options using locally available feed resources.
  • Promote collaboration between teams working on tropical and Mediterranean animal feeding systems.
  • Help to identify areas where further knowledge is required, thereby stimulating needed research.


For each feed resource or family of feed resources, the following methodology is used:

  • Identification of relevant databases and scientific literature.
  • Collection and summary of quantitative and qualitative feed data.
  • Identification of prediction equations from the literature or creation of new equations.
  • Establishment of representative and consistent vectors of chemical and nutritive values. For large families of feedstuffs, the methods of meta-analysis are used.
  • The project is managed through a collaborative website that is editable on-line by the contributors. A separate database contains the composition and nutritive data, the equations and the calculation processes.

Project history

In 2009, the following two projects were merged to give birth to Feedipedia:

Tables of nutritive value for farm animals in tropical and Mediterranean regions (Tables Régions Chaudes) (INRA, CIRAD and AFZ)

In 2002, INRA and AFZ published a book Tables of composition and nutritive values of feed materials. Available in French, English, Spanish and Chinese, this book includes information about feed ingredients from temperate countries that are generally used in compound feeds. It does not contain information on forages. After the publication of this book, users from Mediterranean and tropical areas showed interest to have similar information for their regions. INRA, CIRAD and AFZ then joined forces to create a compendium of feed data targeted at warm-climate areas. Unlike the INRA-AFZ tables, these tables also contain information on forages. In addition to chemical composition and nutritional value, it also has information such as description of feeds and feeding recommendations. After a feasibility study, this project was launched in 2009.

This project was presented at the following conferences:

AFRIS - Animal Feed Resources Information System (FAO)

In 1981, FAO published Tropical feeds, a seminal book by Bo Göhl that summarized about 70 years of worldwide feed data. Tropical feeds was published as a CD-ROM (Tropfeed) in the early 1990s and its content was later made available on the Internet when it became part of AFRIS, the Animal Feed Resources Information System of FAO.