Livestock feeding trends in the spotlight at EuroTier

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World’s largest trade fair for livestock farmers will feature the latest trends in feeding farm animals – New feed technologies and alternative ingredients to be exhibited – EuroTier 2018 takes place from 13 to 16 November at Hanover’s Exhibition Grounds.

Feedstuffs are one of the most expensive inputs on livestock farms, so it should come as no surprise that farmers will be interested in any development that reduces their expenditure – either by offering new, lower-cost feeds, or through helping their animals use the feed they get more efficiently. At EuroTier 2018, the world’s leading exhibition for livestock producers, visitors will be able to see the latest feeding developments on the market, and also talk to manufacturers about the products they are developing for the future.

The feed area at EuroTier where visitors can become acquainted with new and unusual feedstuffs they may not have considered before. As a focus point for livestock nutrition, it is the ideal location to tackle important questions facing those involved in this part of the agricultural industry. Feed security, feed quality and issues surrounding the safety of raw materials are always of interest to all livestock farmers and feed manufacturers, and they are just as keen to hear about current product developments and feeding trends.

Arguments continue about the sustainability of livestock production and whether crops that could be used to feed the human population should be fed to animals. Antibiotic use in livestock remains under the spotlight, as does concern about disposing of livestock manure, while minimizing its effect on the environment.

 Developments that will impact on all these issues are in the pipeline, and a few of examples are listed below:

“Functional” complementary feeds
These are supplementary feeds or pre-mixes that do not focus primarily on supplying energy and nutrients to the animal, but are intended to support them through the inclusion of special ingredients. These could include medium-chain fatty acids, oligo- or polysaccharides, or polyphenolic acids that promote intestinal function, metabolism and the immune system, and thus animal health. The use of complementary feeds is topical as they can assist in reducing the amount of antibiotics used on livestock farms.

Optimizing compound feeds for nitrogen and phosphorus
As our understanding grows into how excess nitrogen and phosphorous in livestock rations passes through the animals and are excreted in manure, where it can pollute the environment, nutritionists continue to look at how they can reduce the damaging effects that may result. Due to the high protein requirements of animals, protein supplementation often exceeds nutritional-necessary levels. This is also the case with phosphorous, where the available quantity in the diet from a particular source can vary; there could be more than expected, or it may be in a form that’s poorly utilizable by the animal and immediately excreted. Protein requirements can be better balanced by optimizing the feed protein quality through targeted supplementation of free amino acids, as well as through the use of specific enzymes. Issues with phosphorus, meanwhile, can be addressed by reducing the phosphorous content of the animals’ diet to manageable levels that will not result in a deficiency.

Non-GMO protein sources
As it becomes increasingly difficult to source soybean meal from suppliers that can guarantee that the product does not include material from genetically modified (GMO) plants, more and more farmers in Germany, and some other European countries, have stopped using imported soybean meal or feed that may include this material. Therefore, there is a growing requirement for alternative protein feedstuffs that can be used instead, such as non-GMO rapeseed meal, field beans, peas, lupins or sunflower meal. All of these are now in demand, and research continues into the extent to which each of these feeds can be used in animal diets without affecting animal health, feed intake and efficiency, as well as the desired texture and taste characteristics of the animal products being produced.

Insect protein research continues
As the growing world population continues to put a focus on the ethics of feeding livestock with ingredients that could be used for human nutrition, the search continues for new protein sources to meet livestock’s needs. One promising route of current research is insect protein, which has been under review in the European Union for some time. The feasibility of using this novel food source is not in doubt and feeding trials with poultry are already underway, but there are still some food safety issues to be settled – in particular the potential for any toxins in the feed provided to the insects making its way into the final feedstuff – before insect protein becomes mainstream. The public at large will also have to be engaged to judge their acceptance of this novel animal feed as part of the diet of animals they consume.

Water as a feedstuff
In addition to the supply of energy and essential nutrients, providing adequate amounts of water in appropriate quality is a crucial prerequisite for the health and performance of farm animals. Water can, therefore, be regarded as the most important nutrient or feed, and the farmer is solely responsible for ensuring it does not become a limiting factor in animal performance. Technologies that promote clean water supplies and help enhance water consumption – potentially increasing food intake in the process – should therefore be of interest to all farmers.

Quality of roughage
Coarse feeds, such as grass or corn silage, account for the lion’s share of ruminant feed, but their quality and feed value can vary considerably. Maximizing feed quality increasingly begins with focusing on technically well-founded cultivation planning, as well as on achieving optimal harvesting characteristics, by cutting and gathering the crop at its most nutritious stage. To safeguard the quality of forage, additional silage additives can be used that make a significant contribution to improving the fermentation process; but these also stabilize the fermented forage during storage to help maintain its quality when the clamp is opened and the crop is exposed to the atmosphere.

Feed additives
Feed additives are widely used in livestock diets in the European Union, but only after they have been through a comprehensive and complex approval process to show they are safe for farmers and animals, as well as effective.

The use of enzymes to improve the digestibility of certain ingredients such as protein, phosphorus or carbohydrates are widely used. Likewise, numerous probiotics and other products are used to stabilize gut flora and health.

With more than 163,000 visitors and 2,600 exhibitors in 2016, the EuroTier trade fair, which takes place this year from 13th to 16th November at Hanover’s Exhibition Center, Germany, is widely acknowledged as the world’s largest exhibition for livestock producers.

More information about EuroTier 2018 is available online at: www.eurotier.com