The animal nutrition market is one of the most important aspects of livestock management and animal husbandry. Just like humans, animals require a balanced diet to get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that they need to lead a healthy life. With proper nutrition, animals are better equipped to fight off infections, allowing them to grow and reproduce naturally. Diets depend on the different life stages of the animals, as well as their kind. As a result, cows will have a different diet than pigs or goats. Moreover, juveniles have different diets from adults. To meet all the different nutritional needs, supplements are sometimes added in order to prevent deficiencies and malnutrition.
Just like with any other industry, there are different trends here as well, based on what farmers and veterinarians discover to be beneficial for the animals. These trends are usually discussed at international farming events, where the latest innovations in agriculture and animal rearing are revealed and debated. The solutions are meant to find ways to tackle the modern demands of farming. Both the present and the future come with previously unseen challenges as the world is moving towards sustainability and more ethical practices across all industries.
Below are some of the latest trends pertaining to the animal nutrition industry, as well as how they’re expected to impact farmers and their businesses.
Supplementary feeds are a nutritional category comprising foods that, when used stand-alone, are insufficient to meet all the nutritional requirements of an animal. Rather, they are intended to support their harmonious development through the introduction of special ingredients. These include essential amino and fatty acids, particularly of the medium-chain variety, as well as polyphenolic acids. The nutrients are meant to boost intestinal functions, as well as the immune system and metabolism, meaning they’re beneficial for the animal’s overall health. They’re also important in the context of reducing the number of antibiotics used in large-scale livestock farming due to their potentially harmful effects. This brings us to our next point, which is:
Over the past few years, there’s been increasing discussion regarding the use of antibiotics in industrial animal farming. One of the most common concerns regarding this practice is the increased risk of transmitting drug-resistant pathogens and bacteria to humans. There are three situations in which antimicrobials can be administered to livestock:
- Therapeutic: used for treating an ill animal
- Metaphylactic use: treating all animals in a group after some of them have become ill
- Prophylactic: as a preventative measure with the aim of deterring the occurrence of illness
Roughly 70% of the antibiotics sold globally are given to livestock. Despite the dangers of antimicrobial resistance, the number is expected to increase by 8% by 2030. When infections become resistant to treatment, there’s an increased chance of the disease spreading faster and a higher incidence of severe symptoms among those who become infected. As a result, many farmers have begun focusing on the alternatives that can be used in animal production and which have similar health-promoting benefits without the additional risks of antibiotics:
- Probiotics and prebiotics: The natural, living microorganisms that promote a balanced gut flora and suppress the development of harmful bacteria.
- Organic acids: Similar to antibiotics, these acids target fungi and bacteria directly by entering the pathogen’s cell membrane, altering their functioning and killing them.
- Enzymes: Administered to improve the overall nutritional value of animal feed, enzymes improve gut health and performance.
- Fossil shell flour: Made from the remains of single-cell organisms found in the soil, sea and lakes, fossil shell flour, contains calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron silica, among many other minerals.
You’re already familiar with this moniker, which aims to designate foods that have not been genetically modified. Many farmers have stopped using feed or meal that utilizes items produced this way. Some alternatives that can deliver the same nutritional requirements include peas, sunflower meal, field beans and rapeseed meal. Research continues, however, regarding what the possible effect would be for the health of the animals, as well as their efficiency and what exactly the intake should be depending on the animal’s particular needs.
It’s also important to choose the right food processing equipment to guarantee performance improvement, yet do it in a way in which the feed is distributed in a safe and efficient manner. Alfraequipment offers reliable solutions due to its over 90 years of experience in the field, designing a wide range of machines specifically tailored to meet the particular demands of the industry.
Corn silage, grass, and other types of coarse feeds are staples in the diets of ruminants. However, the actual quality of these types of meal can vary. Increasing the quality levels starts from the very beginning of the process. It includes cultivating and harvesting the plant material to ensure that it is gathered at the most nutritionally dense stage. To guarantee the increased quality, the fermentation process must also be enhanced. Stabilizing the crops when the silo is opened and the feed is exposed to the atmosphere is particularly important in order to have a healthy yield.
In the context of climate change, there’s been increasing discussion surrounding the ethics of feeding animals foods that could be directly used for human nutrition. One of the most promising routes is insect protein, which was formally approved within the European Union in 2021. Yet, many farmers remain unconvinced and believe there’s a need for further clarification on possible food safety issues, as well as the hygiene risks.
The animal nutrition industry continues to grow and develop. In 2023, the market size measured by revenue stands at $41.8bn. The annual growth rate is estimated to be somewhere around 9.05% annually. With new, more sustainable developments on the way, the numbers can be expected to rise in the upcoming years. Since healthier solutions are developed, both humans and animals can lead healthier lives as a result. Farmers also have a larger responsibility to tackle, deciding which solutions they can use and which they’d rather stay away from.