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The Future of Feed: More than Profit

Apr 21, 2023Apr 21, 2023

The livestock production businesses of the future will need to balance much more than the bottom line, according to an expert panel at the recent Animal Health, Nutrition and Technology Innovation Europe 2023 event in London, UK.

"The definition of what we mean with optimization is changing and more complex," stated Vinicius Chiappetta, Global Commercial Director for Cargill Digital Solutions. "Is it possible to optimize for performance, costs, sustainability, health, and animal welfare, all at the same time?"

Christie Chavis, Vice President of Animal Nutrition and Health Performance Solutions for Dutch nutrition company DSM, said every product in their animal nutrition portfolio now must be focused and linked to one of six sustainability business drivers, which include improving lifetime performance of an animal; ensuring efficient use of natural resources; and reducing antimicrobial resistance.

Chavis said DSM will continue to roll out its methane-reducing feed additive, Bovaer®-- including in the U.S., where its introduction is being planned in cooperation with Elanco. Further, DSM is marketing Sustell™, a software tool that accurately measures and improves the environmental footprint of animal protein production.

"We have to reduce the environmental footprint of farming, but if we don't know our starting point, how do we know that we are improving it?" Chavis declared.

Other keys to the future of animal nutrition and livestock production the panel discussed include:

Data-based decisions and processes – "We already create a lot of data in livestock production, and have proven digital solutions available to us that are very effective," stated Chiappetta. "When we talk about the ‘digital transformation,’ it might have more to do with transforming systems and people, than inventing new digital tools."

Solving microbiome mysteries – There is real power in understanding the intricacies of the animal's microbiome, according to the panelists. "We know a lot about genetics and animal nutrition, but we know the least about the microbiome," noted Chiappetta. They discussed the potential for future work to drill deeper into the intricacies of the gut microbiota functions, and then applying that information to feeding and other production practices.

New feed ingredients – Enzymes were noted as proven, straightforward tools to improve feed efficiency and thus lower the environmental impact of livestock production systems. Single-cell protein was another example of a ration ingredient that could improve sustainability and animal health.

Looking to the future, the panelists envision more collaboration between various segments of the protein production chain, with a focus on the whole animal. As such, they said there will be far less emphasis on the quest for the single, "magic bullet" in terms of feed ingredients.

"The magic lies in the combination of products and services," said Chavis. "This requires an even better understanding of the customer's pain points and how the farm is currently run."

For more on dairy nutrition, read:

Data-based decisions and processes – Solving microbiome mysteries – New feed ingredients –