Animal production is mainly based on feeding energy dense diets (corn and soy) animals (e.g. growing-finishing pigs). Corn is also increasingly used as input for renewable fuels, and soy can be used directly for human consumption, and therefore, faces an increasing demand on the global market. This increases the need to improve resource efficiency by making use of low quality proteins for animal production.
Efficient local animal production is essential to meet the increasing internal demand for animal protein, and to make the animal production competitive and sustainable towards the future. One of the threats is that animal production relies on feed (corn and soy) that is becoming more expensive due to large demand for alternative uses and increasing transport distances. The project team aims to develop and evaluate alternatives involving feeding by-products and breeding strategies that allow global breeding plans to serve specific local breeding goals.
So far, Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) is used as an estimate of feed efficiency. It quantifies how many kg of feed are consumed for the production of 1 kg animal product. The FCR does, however, not take into account feed quality and density (dry matter content) of the product. Therefore, it is difficult to compare FCR between species and between different management systems. Moreover, FCR does not take into account the consumption of human edible proteins (HEP) by livestock. In the future, protein sources will be limited. Therefore, a conversion ratio should be defined that takes into account the amount of protein input and protein output, and the use of HEP. An option would be to use the edible protein conversion factor. The HEP conversion factor is the amount of HEP in the diet per kg animal protein produced. When this value is <1 it is worthwhile feeding the product to animals to let them convert to proteins that humans can digest. When we take the reciprocal of this, we get the protein efficiency (%), which is the ratio of HEPanimal over HEPfeed. The project team will estimate (genetic) parameters for traits related to protein efficiency.
For more information, please contact Esther.Ellen@wur.nl