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A farmer feeding cows fresh fodder. photo credit: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano


FAO, IDF and IFCN map the world’s dairy feeding systems

New publication to serve as key tool in planning dairy chain projects

Gathering information from over 65 countries across 6 continents and a number of production systems, this new report presents for the first time such a large set of data on dairy animal feeding systems. The FAO/IDF/IFCN World Mapping of Animal Feeding Systems in the Dairy Sector will serve as a valuable resource for dairy processors, animal feed professionals, dairy farmers and their advisers, as well as policy makers.

Animal feeding is the first step in the production of milk and therefore affects the rest of the production chain. Given its importance, three partner organizations, the International Dairy Federation (IDF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the IFCN Dairy Research Network (IFCN) collaborated and undertook complementary approaches to map dairy feeding systems in the world. This mapping will provide a useful tool for projects aiming at reducing the carbon footprint of the dairy chain, looking at the impact of animal diets on milk composition and human health and nutrition, and also those influencing animal health and welfare and productivity.

According to Mr. Jeremy Hill, President of IDF, the new report represents an important new tool for industry stakeholders. “This publication will serve as a key reference to assess environmental impact, identify better performing systems, optimize milk composition, enhance animal productivity, health and welfare and also to improve economic sustainability of milk production. This is a major effort that will continue for many years to come, and I encourage everyone in the industry to use this report as a source of reference.”

Mr. Harinder Makkar, FAO, commented that the report due to its wealth of new information and comprehensive scope will be useful in enhancing the accuracy of assessments being made on the carbon and water footprints of dairy production chains and in quantifying food-feed competition. “The diversity of the systems presented, and new information regarding feeding systems of large and small ruminant species, will lead dairy farmers, extension workers and dairy associations to reflect on the prevailing production systems and explore innovative solutions to enhance productivity while conserving the environment and biodiversity.”

That this report is the most comprehensive animal feeding map to date is testament to the collaborative nature of the work. For Mr. Torsten Hemme, IFCN Dairy Research Network, the key strength of the partnership is that each organization could bring specialist expertise and resources to the table, and apply them to common goal. “Three global organizations working together not only allows for large geographic coverage, but also in terms of capturing the diversity of animal feeding systems. While IFCN looked at typical feeding systems and their economic factors, IDF issued a detailed expert survey to its member countries. FAO approached animal nutrition experts to determine the composition of the ‘feeding basket’ for a range of ruminants. The culmination of this data is an impressive insight into dairy feeding systems globally.”