Cheap inputs, including feed grain and fuels, have played an important role in the rapid growth of the livestock sector. Declining grain prices have contributed to their increased use as feed, and lower transportation costs have facilitated the movement of feed and livestock products. However, recent increases in feed and fuel prices may signal the end of the era of cheap inputs. This will have profound implications on how the livestock sector will develop to meet future demands. The continuation of fossil-fuel driven animal-rearing operations is hard to imagine. Meeting future demands may be better accomplished by exploring ways to improve efficiency along the animal chain.

Animal feed

FAO assists countries in generating new data and information, for example through the establishment of national feed inventories, and by mapping feeding systems and feeding baskets to foster formulation of sound policies and guidelines for efficient livestock-sector planning. This information also helps the feed industry to obtain feed ingredients efficiently from local sources, which reduces their carbon footprint and enhances profitability. The Organization also strengthens quality control system in feed analysis laboratories to generate reliable data required for making balanced and safe diets. FAO makes the feed composition data and information on safe use of feed ingredients available to countries through a user-friendly database, AFRIS - Animal Feed Resources Information System.

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Meeting the growing demand for livestock products has been achieved mostly through industrialized production systems. These systems, which depend, directly or indirectly, on fossil fuel inputs, contribute slightly more than two-thirds of global production of poultry meat; less than two-thirds of egg production and more than half the global output of pork. Beyond the embedded energy in animal feed, energy is directly used in livestock production systems for a variety of operations including transport to farm, storage ventilation, movement of feed from storage to pens, control of ambient environment through cooling or heating or ventilation, and animal waste collection and treatment.

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last updated:  Wednesday, January 9, 2013