More efficient and environmentally friendly ways of feeding pigs, poultry and rabbits are the focus of a new European research project that will not only make livestock production more sustainable, but will help to reduce Europe’s import of feedstuffs.

The Feed-a-Gene project aims to develop new and alternative feed resources and technologies, and is being led by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). It is also looking to identify and select animals that are better able to adapt to changing conditions, working to optimize both the feed and the animal.

The EUR9 million (US$9.9 million) project sees public and private partners, including Cobb and Buhler, from across the animal production industries in Europe and China working together, and the results should help to improve the position of the pig, poultry rabbit sectors as demand for animal protein continues to rise.

Getting more from less

Feed-a-Gene aims to not only unlock the potential of existing animal feeds but to identify new and alternative feed sources. It will also look at precision livestock production, including precision feeding for better adapting the nutrient supply to animal requirements.

New genetic markers and genetic diversity will be used to breed animals that are more efficient and robust, and capable of using feed resources that are not, or are less, in demand from other industries.

The group is also hoping to develop new and alternative feed and technologies that will make better use of local feed resources, green biomass and by-products from the food and biofuel industries.