A new report highlights the importance of animal protein in our food system, and explores the role good livestock nutrition plays in producing high quality food products while also improving environmental impacts.

The ’Why Protein Quality Matters in Livestock Production’ report released by CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) highlights why animal protein plays a vital role in our food system and is a critical component of sustainable farming systems. 

See also: Five ways the poultry sector can improve its sustainability

Dr Fiona Short, a livestock nutrition specialist at CIEL, said that the report underscores the significance of animal products such as milk, eggs and meat in providing essential amino acids vital for human nutrition.

“The report underlines that for effective livestock production, it’s essential to provide a diet with a balanced composition of amino acids,” explained Dr Short. 

“A balanced diet enables efficient production of animal protein, which reduces excretion of protein breakdown products like urea which is associated with emissions of nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas), ammonia (that affects animal and human health) and nitrates, which can leach into waterways. So protein quality can impact on emissions and the wider environment.”

However, the report also acknowledges that the industry needs to ensure that feed protein utilisation by livestock is efficient. 

Minimising waste

Paddy Tarbuck, CIEL sustainability manager, said that efficient utilisation not only contributes to farm profitability but also plays a pivotal role in minimising waste and protecting the environment. 

“By improving the quality of protein in livestock diets and utilising the digestive specialisations of ruminants, the industry can reduce the production of greenhouse gases while continuing to supply high-quality protein food for our diets,” added Mr Tarbuck.

However, Dr Short says there are challenges in achieving a sustainable supply of protein for livestock feeds.

“CIEL is actively engaged in researching environmentally friendly protein-rich raw materials for livestock feed,” she said.

Protein quality

“Our efforts extend to improving the protein quality of livestock feed, exploring novel protein sources, and optimising microbial populations in livestock digestive systems to maximise efficiency.”

Dr Short added: “This report provides valuable insights for protein nutrition relevant to the implementation of innovative farming methods that maximise efficiency, profitability and sustainability of livestock systems and wider agriculture. 

“Through research, innovation and a commitment to sustainable practices, livestock should continue to provide a vital role in providing nutritionally adequate diets worldwide.”

To read the report in full, visit https://cielivestock.co.uk/expertise/protein-quality-matters-livestock-production-november-2023/

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