Feeding the global population – the future of sustainable livestock farming
Feeding the global population – the future of sustainable livestock farming

Experts and consumers alike gathered at the Global Forum for Food & Agriculture in Berlin to discuss how we feed a growing population sustainably. Florian Schalke, Elanco’s senior market access manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, was there.

Delegates came from high-, middle- and low-income countries, demonstrating that sustainable growth in production is a truly global issue.

But how do we do more with less? Animal Task Force’s Jean-Louis Peyraud sees many opportunities in improving animal health, and he believes “feeding and breeding” are key factors.

Attempts are already being made to breed new strains of poultry, pigs and cattle that are more robust, need fewer resources and antibiotics, or have a better feed conversion rate (FCR).

He also recommended that the industry should “think efficiency” as a priority, estimating that between 30 to 40 per cent of GHG emissions could be cut simply by implementing existing best practices.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and the UK are leading the charge in “smart farming”, an emerging trend that other countries are now starting to follow. Such technologies have already launched successfully in crop-farming. These include satellite-steered harvesters, and sensors that evaluate soil quality in real time, then spread only the required amount of fertiliser for each patch of land.

Smart tech for the livestock industry includes milking parlours that evaluate the quality and quantity of milk from each cow, individualised feed rations and health status early warnings. And this could be just the beginning.

So there are more ways than ever to maintain good livestock health. And as European regulations restrict the use of some critically important antibiotics, good animal husbandry and prevention are becoming ever more important than curative activities.

But while there have been great advances in recent years, a reluctance to adopt them may be the rate-limiting step across much of Europe.

Vets have a key role to play here in helping the industry embrace new technologies and meet modern demands. By keeping at the forefront of the latest developments and providing an expert opinion, vets can influence best practice and help steer the industry towards a more sustainable future.

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