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Broadening horizons

Broadening horizons is a monthly column written by feed specialists focused on scientific developments in animal feeds and feeding.


Broadening Horizons N°57

By Udo Rűdiger1, Michael Peters2, Solomon Mwendia2, Harinder Makkar3, Sawsan Hassan1, and Bhramar Dey4*

1 International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas1082, Tunis Tunisia
2 Alliance of Bioversity International, CIAT P.O. Box 823-00621, Nairobi Kenya
3 Independent consultant
4 Founder and Principal Consultant. Seeds & Feed for Development, LLC.
*Correspondence: bhramar.dey@sf4dev.com

In the face of animal feed insecurities, the present perspective focuses on Tunisia and explores the potential oflocally available materials - such as, forages and by-products - to increase quality feed supply in the country. Forage production from a mix of forage species (triticale, oats, fenugreek, and vetch) in different proportions to pellet production using a mix of grains of maize, barley and soybean and locally available feed ingredients
such as date palm byproducts, grain brans, tomato plant, saline-tolerant local alfalfa, among others are being increasingly used by small and medium farmers. Business models through public-private partnerships that include feed densification technologies like pelletization provide a novel solution to spatially configure feed supply in the north and demand sink in southern Tunisia where agroecological conditions are arid. With appropriate and effective policy and enabling environment, these adaptive strategies that build local resilience have applicability in Tunisia and beyond.

Broadening Horizons N°56, April 2023

By Chong Wang1, Jianxin Liu 2, Harinder P.S. Makkar3, Jinyong Yang4 

This paper introduced the concept of Animal Raising Zones (ARZs) and lists advantages of rearing dairy cattle in these zones. In addition, some existing implementation issues that prevent realization of full potential of the ARZs are also presented. The site selection for, and construction of, the ARZs, production management, member participation options and dividend sharing modes of the Zones are discussed. The information presented here would help the upcoming ARZs managements and the existing ones to implement good management practices to harvest the maximum benefits from the ARZs.

Broadening Horizons N°55, February 2023

By Harinder P. S. Makkar1,  Valérie Heuzé2, and Gilles Tran2

Locusts, and to a lesser extent grasshoppers, may cause massive destruction of crops and pastures and adversely affect livelihoods and food security of farmers and pastoralists. Locusts and grasshoppers are rich in protein (50-65 % in dry matter) and their essential amino acid composition is also good. In the diets of poultry, pigs and fish, replacement of up to 25% of the conventional protein-rich feed resources such as soymeal and fishmeal is possible with these insects.

Broadening Horizons N°54, June 2020

By M. Wadhwa, M. P. S. Bakshi and Harinder P. S. Makkar

The acute shortage of feedstuffs in Asian, Middle East and African countries has prompted Animal Nutritionists to explore new non-conventional feed resources that do not compete with human food. The most promising among these, available in plenty, are fruit and vegetable wastes (FVWs). Currently most FVWs are dumped in wastelands causing environmental pollution. Citrus fruit (Mausambi/sweet lime or kinnow) waste, available in bulk, is rich in nutrients and bio-active compounds. Studies revealed that kinnow waste, after sun drying or ensiling with poor quality crop residues, can be effectively utilized as animal feed, to enhance animal production, mitigate environmental pollution and decrease feeding cost.


Broadening Horizons N°53, April 2020

By Harinder P.S. Makkar1, Paul Opio2, Joseph Matere3, Jay Angerer4, Luca Innocente5, Wamalwa Kinyanjui6, Cyril Ferrand2 and S. Munyua6

Seasonal feed shortages and inefficient feed use by pastoralist and agropastoralist communities are the major challenges affecting livestock productivity in East African countries. Studies have shown that the early actions provide high returns on investment. However, the early actions can only be taken with sound and timely information. A National Animal Feed Security System (NAFSS) that monitors animal feed and water availability, can play a vital role in alerting decision makers of the right time to implement early actions. It would also enhance efficiency of livestock production and make the livestock sector more resilient. A NAFSS is a complete set of an array of components, namely tools; and of procedures, facilities, skills, infrastructure, personnel, organizations, and institutions required to implement them. This article illustrates the components of such a system and the manner in which FAO and IGAD intend to operationalise it in East African countries.

Broadening Horizons N°52, October 2019

By Harinder Makkar, Lemma Gizachew, Adugna Tolera, Antonello Salis, Alemu Yami, Alberto Giani, AbdoulKarim Bah and Shukri Ahmed

Livestock sector is vital for food security in Africa as it provides a number of essential nutrients to millions of people. Recent repeated droughts, however, had devastating effects on pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods, mainly due to feed and water shortages. This short paper provides information on the availability of biomass for use as animal feed and the feed balance in terms of dry matter (DM), metabolizable energy (ME) and crude protein (CP) for each of the 10 regions of Ethiopia and for the nation. These sets of data are prerequisite for putting in place strategic interventions to meet the feed demand at times of scarcity as well as for making informed decisions for sustainable development of the livestock sector in Ethiopia.

Broadening Horizons N°51, March 2018

By Harinder P.S. Makkar, Emily Addonizio and Lemma Gizachew

To better monitor the national and regional livestock sectors and formulate adequate development strategies, it is essential to develop systematic approaches to accurately assess livestock feed supplies and obtain better insight into how feed resources are being utilized. The latter information on use of feed resources is achieved by characterizing the feeding systems. A detailed information on feeding systems in lowlands of Ethiopia is presented here. Also approaches to meet the deficiency of animal feed in the dry seasons are presented.

Broadening Horizons N°50, February 2018

By Seyoum Bediye, Gemechu Nemi and Harinder Makkar

In terms of livestock wealth, Ethiopia is endowed with largest domestic animal population in Africa, composed of diverse animal species and breeds. Animal production is key to economic development in Ethiopia. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the current status of the feed industry. Currently 32 private companies and 28 farmers’ unions are engaged in compound feed production, which produce only 61,416 tonnes of feed in a year. The Ethiopian feed industry faces several challenges such as high cost of ingredients, unfair taxing policy, low demand of compound feed, among others. Opportunities, however, also exist for the feed industry, which are also highlighted.

Broadening Horizons N°49, January 2018

By Harinder P.S. Makkar1, Emily Addonizio2, Lemma Gizachew2, Alberto Giani2 and Abdoul Karim Bah2

In countries across the Horn of Africa and in many other parts of the world, the lack of feed inflicts major adverse effects on livestock during times of drought. This has been identified as a major problem by development agencies, NGOs, researchers and extension workers alike, and one which must be addressed urgently. This article discusses and prioritises feeding strategies, which can be used under emergencies in dry areas.

Broadening Horizons N°48, December 2017

M.P.S. Bakshi, M. Wadhwa and Harinder P.S. Makkar

The shortage of green fodder in most of the Middle East, African and Asian countries has generated a renewed interest in hydroponic fodder production. The technology requires only 1-3% space and 2-5% water for irrigation in comparison to that required under traditional fodder production. Furthermore, on per unit area basis, the fodder yield is 3-5 times higher than the traditional farming. A critical assessment of hi-tech and low-cost hydroponic systems revealed that the latter has an edge over the former in all aspects. Using the low-cost systems, the fodder production can be economized and these systems can be applied in situations faced with scarce water and land supply, and where the traditionally grown fodder is available in low amounts and at high price.

Broadening Horizons N°47, November 2017

Anne Mottet, Cees de Haan, Alessandra Falcucci, Giuseppe Tempio, Carolyn Opio, Pierre Gerber

By 2050, human population will reach 9.6 billion people with ever higher demand for animal products. However, animal production is increasingly criticized for the competition between feed and food crops and for low efficiency of conversion of food crops to animal products. Arguing the health benefits of animal products for humans, this paper suggests to look beyond the comparison between food and feed seen in terms of energy or protein only. Other issues that need consideration are feed edibility, use of land, coproducts production and waste reduction.

Broadening Horizons N°46, October 2017

M. Wadhwa, M.P.S. Bakshi and Harinder P.S. Makkar

Empty pea pods is an important byproduct of pea production. It is a valuable feed for livestock. Empty pea pods can be offered fresh alone or with waste-resources such as cull carrots. In the dried form they can be included in rations with forage legume hay like berseem. They can be ensiled with other byproducts such as wheat straw and then fed. This article provides information on the composition and nutritive value of empty pea pods and the ways they can be used to feed livestock.

Broadening Horizons N°45, September 2017

Keerti S. Rathore, Thomas C. Wedegaertner, and Kater Hake

Cotton plant is not only the most important source of natural textile fibre in the world but also one of the most important source of oil and cottonseed meal that can make available 10.8 million tons crude protein per year. However, the nutritive value of this protein is hampered by a toxic substance, gossypol, present in seed glands. Gossypol is detrimental to monogastric animals as well as humans. However, it acts as a deterrent to pests and is beneficial for the plant. This article reports use of new generation biotechnologies to engineer a cotton plant that resulted in the reduction of gossypol from ~10,000 ppm to about 250 ppm in only the seed, without affecting gossypol levels in other parts of the plant and thus maintaining the pest-deterrent traits. Cottonseed meal produced from such ultra-low gossypol cotton has potential use in the diets of poultry, pigs and aquatic species.

Broadening Horizons N°44, August 2017

Mohinder P.S. Bakshi, M. Wadhwa and Harinder P.S. Makkar

The production of baby corn intended for human consumption has been steadily increasing in the past decade, resulting in byproducts such as fresh or ensiled baby corn husk and baby corn fodder. The use of these byproducts for animal feeding not only improves food security but also contributes to alleviation of environmental issues associated with their disposal. This article deals with different uses of baby corn byproducts for livestock feeding.

Broadening Horizons N°43, July 2017

Harinder Makkar

Ergot is a disease of cereal crops and grasses that is caused by fungi of the Claviceps genus. Claviceps includes about 50 known species, mostly in tropical regions. The sclerotia of Claviceps species are known as ergot. The fungi produce ergot alkaloids, also denoted ergolines, which are responsible for a disease called ergotism in livestock and humans. The article presents the symptoms of ergotism in animals, and the treatments and feed regulations associated with ergot.

Broadening Horizons N°42, June 2017

By John Moran (Profitable Dairy Systems, Kyabram, Victoria, Australia) and Geoff Walker (Land O’ Lakes, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

With increasing per capita consumption of milk and other dairy products throughout developing countries, virtually every country in southern Asia is seeking to increase its domestic production of raw milk. However, the continuous use of certain traditional practices (feeding, watering, stock management, housing and comfort) in smallholder dairy farms has adversely impacted on the rate of development of such dairy industries. We have a challenge to ensure that better models, such as those used in Vietnam and Thailand, are spread much more widely than is the case at present in traditional dairying sectors such as in Bangladesh and other countries in the Indian subcontinent.

Broadening Horizons N°41, May 2017

By Breanna M. Roque1, Jayasooriya A. D. R. N. Appuhamy1,2, and Ermias Kebreab1

1University of California and 2Iowa State University

While exogenous enzymes have long been proven to be effective in non-ruminant diets, the use of exogenous enzymes in ruminant diets has been limited. This paper reviews amylolytic, proteolytic and fibrolytic enzymes and their potential role in ruminant diets. The few studies conducted so far on effectiveness of ß-mannanase in ruminants have shown beneficial nutritional effects in goats, beef and lactating cows. In addition, there is some indication of health benefits from ß-mannanase in ruminants as well. 

Broadening Horizons N°40, April 2017

By Harinder Makkar, FAO

Against the backdrop of ongoing climate change, frequent and long droughts, and land degradation, cactus has a special place in future sustainable food production systems in dry areas. This article provides a summary of the value of cactus in feeding strategies for drier places and as a climate-smart agricultural practice.

Broadening Horizons N°39, March 2017

By Carolyn Opio, FAO

The unique ability of ruminants to use high roughage feedstuffs is obtained through a symbiosis between the ruminant and the diverse ruminal populations of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and methanogens. The feed consumed by the animal provides nutrients to rumen microorganisms. During the microbial fermentation, both useful (e.g. microbial mass and short chain fatty acids) and waste (e.g. methane and carbon dioxide) products are produced. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and a pollutant. Methane production by ruminant is however variable, highly dependent on the quality of feeds. This paper, in addition to presenting global methane production scenarios, illustrates how methane emissions could be reduced and animal productivity enhanced from different dairy cattle production systems in a country.

Broadening Horizons N°38, February 2017

By Paula Kovalsky, BIOMIN

Mycotoxins and multi-mycotoxin occurrences are a global threat. They can be present from field to storage facilities. This paper, resulting from a long-term survey of animal feeds for toxins produced by fungi, provides an overview of the incidence of mycotoxins in the world in 2015 and 2016. This paper also points out the fact that toxicological interactions between mycotoxins may enhance their toxicological effects on animals. Mycotoxins thus require constant monitoring and permanent research to prevent and mitigate their harmful effects on animals.