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Functional Additives
Thursday, July 5, 2007 12:49:52 PM
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Embrace the challenges of the animal feed industry

Dr Peter R. Ferket, Professor of Nutrition,Department of Poultry Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University



Animal agriculture has undergone remarkable change and growth during the past few decades, and it will continue to change in the coming years to meet higher demand for low-cost, healthy and convenient products. 


In addition to expanding markets, animals are being genetically selected for ever- increasing growth performance and efficiency.  This change in production efficiency has been most notable in the poultry industry.  The future presents new consumer-driven challenges that are shifting the focus away from production and cost minimisation towards consumer confidence and product value. 


Regardless of this changing focus, the sustainability of animal agriculture must concentrate on integrated profitability. The feed industry is the foundation upon which the animal industry must build a sustainable future.


Change is a powerful motivating force for business. Those that resist the challenges of change will ultimately fail, while those who embrace challenges are more likely to succeed.  


New opportunities for the feed industry are hidden within the changing paradigms in agribusiness. Rather than concentrating on minimising feed costs, the feed industry should focus more on value-added strategies and create a "brand" recognised by the consumer.


Today, the feed industry is faced with a whole range of new challenges; many are related to the profit potential of a business venture. Maximised profits come by maximising product value and minimising production costs. 


Feed represents more than half of the total costs of delivering animal food products to customers, and it represents over 70 percent of total live production cost.   


Feed costs are influenced by four major factors: global energy costs, availability of feed protein and energy sources, feed ingredient quality, and the choice of feed additives.


One of the most important objectives of the feed industry is to capture the true value of feed ingredients, especially those derived from grains.  The use of animal by-products in formula feeds is decreasing in response to public concerns associated with transmissible diseases, such as BSE, salmonella, and avian influenza. 


In contrast, "all-veggie" feeds are becoming increasingly popular; but this requires feed companies to include more high-fibre grain co-products in feeds if they want to control feed costs.  The greatest opportunity to capture the true value of these grains and their co-products is by the strategic use of supplemental enzyme preparations, including pentosanase, protease, cellulose, pectinase, amylase, phytase, and beta-glucanase. 


Another challenge is related to the social health movement to confine antibiotic use to human medicine, due to concerns over the potential development of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria in livestock.


However, the EU ban on antibiotic growth promoters is causing the animal industry to use more therapeutic antibiotics to combat or prevent disease. Is this a dilemma or an opportunity for the feed industry?


According to Peter Drucker, an opportunity becomes clear when business managers get on the same side of the desk as their customers. The feed industry's challenge then, is to deliver "natural" solutions. By applying the science of glycomics, a "natural" alternative to antibiotics is possible without risking the development of resistance. 


For more of the article, please click here.


Article made possible through the contribution of North Carolina State University.

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