The challenges facing both human and animal nutrition were highlighted at the recent Capital Market Days event, organized by DSM in Basel, Switzerland.

The pressure on producing animal protein is well known and expected to increase, and this clearly has implications not only for producers of animal protein, but also for human nutrition and health. DSM said that in order to overcome the challenges, farmers will have to optimize the use of their resources.

Among the ways to achieve this will be the development of improved and alternative feedstuffs, reducing anti-nutritional factors in feed, and making better use of by-products from industrial processes. These goals can be reached through greater use of feed enzymes, according to the company.

But there are other ways in which the challenges can be met. Improving the health and welfare of farmed animals can result in higher yields, and reducing the morbidity and mortality rates of farm animals, sustaining the health of high yielding breeds, and increasing the life of expectancy of breeding animals can all make them, ultimately, more productive. To achieve this, eubiotic approaches may the answer.

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However, as production has increased, so too has the environmental footprint that producing animal protein leaves, and farmers will need to ever-more address their ecological impact and find solutions to the problems of manure, ammonia and methane emissions.

While the consumption of animal protein derived from all species is forecast to increase, protein from poultry and fish is expected to see the greatest increase in demand. When considering production changes, producers of animal protein will need to be able to turn to proven products and sound scientific advice if they wish to maximize possible returns from their investment.

Better animal nutrition, better human nutrition 
But of course the correct feeding of farm animals is rarely an end in itself. Ultimately, their production is to improve human nutrition.

DSM highlighted some key data regarding poor human nutrition, including that one in seven people still go to bed hungry, while 200 million children are physical or cognitively stunted each year due to poor nutrition, and 3.5 million children die. At the other end of the scale, there are now 1.6 billion people in the world considered overweight or obese, and this is a trend that is growing not only in the developed world, but also in the developing world.