Efficient use of available feed resources is essential for a sustainable Norwegian food production. At present, Norwegian animal production relies to a large extent on imported feed ingredients that potentially can be used directly as human food. Soybean meal produced from soybeans grown in Brazil is thus by far the most important protein source in concentrate animal feed.
Increased food production and higher national selfsufficiency
The increased international demand for food and feed ingredients creates an increasing risk of lowered availability and increased price in the world market. The agricultural policy in Norway is to increase food selfsufficiency, and future animal production should consider the potential of combining high feed efficiency with more use of local non-food resources.
The U.N. estimates that the world population will exceed 9 billion people by 2050 and calls for a 100% increase in food production by mid-century. To increase feed security, the Norwegian governmental strategy is a 20% increase in food production by 2030.
Economical, ethical and environmental advantages
Soybeans also serve as a suitable nutrient source for direct human consumption, and the extensive use as animal feed can be questioned for economical as well as ethical reasons. Cultivation of soybeans for use in Norwegian animal feed also has a high environmental impact, partly due to long transport distance and partly due to emissions related to land use change. It is assumed that replacing soybean meal with locally produced feed ingredients will decrease the global warming potential and reduce environmental impact.
Improved utilization of national fiber-rich feed resources
Main emphasis in the FeedMileage project is directed towards dairy cows, pigs and poultry and efforts to improve utilization of national fiber-rich feed resources, increase genetic robustness and improve gut health of the animals. A further goal is to reduce the environmental impact of this production sector through lowered greenhouse gas emissions and reduced nutrient excretion.
Feed cost comprises a major part of the variable cost in animal production. Improvements in feed efficiency are important to increase selfsufficiency and to reduce the environmental burden of food production. It is therefore crucial to improve nutritional quality of locally produced feed resources, and to develop more efficient and robust animals that can best utilize these feed resources. In FeedMileage, pigs and poultry will be genetically adapted to tolerate high fiber diets and to make their digestive system less sensitive to antinutrients. The research will also be aiming at developing animals with a high capacity to consume and digest high roughage diets.
A multidisciplinary approach
FeedMileage is addressing feed efficiency and main challenges in future animal production based on local feed resources. Feed efficiency can be improved by genetic as well as nutritional methods. High feed efficiency requires animals with a healthy and functional digestive tract.
Improved feed processing methods should be developed to maximize the nutritional value of feed resources. Pigs and poultry can be genetically adapted to tolerate high fiber diets and to make their digestive system less sensitive to antinutrients.
In dairy cattle, genomic selection and in-debth studies of key processes in digestion will contribute to increase feed efficiency. Obviously, an improvement of feed efficiency and a major change from imported to local feed resources require combined efforts within different research fields.
FeedMileage is therefore developed as a multidisciplinary enterprise with expertise in animal nutrition, genetics, and veterinary and bio-economical sciences.
Areas of research
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