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Livestock feed additives with beneficial effects


August 8, 2012
By University of Hertfordshire

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August 8, 2012 – The Agricultural and Environmental Research Unit (AERU) at the University of Hertfordshire has been awarded a research contract to review chemical additives used in livestock diets and to critically evaluate their potential for delivering environmental benefits such as reducing waste gases that may contribute to climate change.

Livestock productivity is dependent on the animals being well kept and healthy, and this depends on them receiving adequate nutrition. Existing evidence shows that livestock feed can be improved by the use of feed additives that not only improve diet and health but can also be used, for example, to increase milk yields, suppress the oestrus (female reproductive) cycle or even improve digestion in livestock. When properly used in a well-managed environment, many of these additives can substantially improve performance and farm profitability.

The study, funded by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), is to be completed by spring 2013. It will undertake a thorough, critical and systematic review to produce a global inventory of current feed additives that offer environmental benefits. This information will support the current European regulatory process on feed additives, and will help develop more sustainable policies in this area.

“Feed additives must meet the necessary safety standards but they can also help to deliver environmental benefits,” said Dr. Kathy Lewis, reader in agri-environmental science. “They have an important role to play in delivering sustainable increases in productivity but can be used to improve digestive processes in livestock which will reduce waste production including methane, ammonia and other metabolic gases.”