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Chapter 4
Research Areas

4.1 Research Targets

The discussion in Chapter 3 highlights the areas and suggest priorities for application and continuing research for improving animal production from the available feed resources for livestock in developing countries. The targets are:—

Maximisation of P/E ratio in Nutrients Absorbed from the Rumen

Some methods/techniques to do this are listed below:—

  1. by combinations of minerals, non-protein nitrogen and protein supplementation to support high efficiencies of rumen fermentation

  2. improve microbial growth efficiency by manipulating the microbial populations

  3. improve dietary protein bypass. Where protein is fed, to decrease protein and/or peptide and/or amino acid degradation in the rumen and allow a greater flow of amino acids, peptides and protein to the intestines from dietary origin

  4. development of sources of supplements of protein meals that have natural protection or are manipulated to escape rumen fermentation. This includes the need to:—

Maximisation of Digestibility of Fibrous Feeds

This is achieved by:—

  1. providing supplements of essential nutrients required by microbes

  2. manipulating microbial populations in the rumen to increase digestibility

  3. promote populations of selected, highly fibrolytic fungi in the rumen

  4. defaunation

  5. treatment of crop residues prior to feeding to enhance their digestibility

  6. altering the physiology of the digestive tract (e.g. rumen mobility, turnover etc.) e.g. through the use of immunisation of somatotropin release inhibiting factor (SRIF).

Optimising the Partitioning of Nutrients into Product

This includes:—

  1. by breeding more efficient animals

  2. chemical intervention—hormonal implants or injections

  3. injections of compounds such as B-agonists, bovine growth hormone

  4. development of transgenic animals with particular characteristics e.g. high circulating BSt or enzymes complements previously not present in animals.

4.2 Priority Ratings

Assigning priorities within this list is a most important aspect of this report. Clearly the research requires a differing level of sophistication of technology and different priorities will need to be assigned to different resource bases. Simply stated, the priority ratings for research emphasis are in order of priority:—

  1. to ensure an adequate P/E ratio in nutrients absorbed

  2. to improve the extent of digestion of low digestibility feeds that require microbial fermentation for digestion

  3. to improve the partitioning of available nutrients for product synthesis (meat, milk, wool etc.) or drought power generation.

It is clear that an inadequate nutrition will not allow the expression of any manipulations in priority (3). It is also obvious that a super bug cannot be successful in the rumen that is deficient in critical nutrients (for example, ammonia).

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