The optimisation of feed resources is of paramount importance and requires accurate feed values. Tables of feed composition and nutritive value are used to formulate diets that meet animal requirements at the lowest cost, thereby improving production results and farm productivity. In emerging and developing countries, and particularly those in tropical and Mediterranean areas, the demand for animal products has been steadily growing in the past decades, and so has the need for accurate feed information. However, even though many research data are published every year, they are rarely summarized in an easily available form, and users in these regions must often rely on data obtained in temperate countries or use obsolete or incomplete sources.
The Tables of nutritive values for farm animals in tropical and Mediterranean regions is a current project of INRA, CIRAD and AFZ (with partial support from the FAO) that aims to produce comprehensive tables for feed users in these areas. The tables are planned for release in 2013, either in paper or electronic form. In addition to AFZ staff, the project involves INRA and CIRAD researchers, and research organizations from other countries.
The main objective is to create a compendium of up-to-date information on feed materials available to users in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean regions. The project focuses on the following information:
• Feed nomenclature and descriptions: names, physical aspect (including pictures), availability, processes and environmental impact.
• Recommendations by livestock species, including cautionary information.
• Composition and nutritive values derived from feed databases and scientific literature.
For local users, the following benefits should be expected:
• Better identification, qualification and quantification of local feed resources.
• Better opportunities for livestock in sustainable integrated farming systems.
• Better use of local feeding practices and less reliance on imported techniques and feed materials.
• In the near future, it will also be possible to use the tables’ framework for quantitative environmental data.
For researchers, the tables should:
• Help to promote collaboration between teams working on tropical and Mediterranean animal feeding.
• Help to identify areas of incomplete knowledge, thereby stimulating needed research.
For each feed material or family of feed materials, we will use the following methodology:
• Research and identification of relevant databases and scientific literature
• Collection and summarizing quantitative and qualitative feed data
• Establishing representative and consistent vectors of chemical and nutritive values. For large families of feedstuffs, the methods of meta-analysis will be used.
• The project is managed through a collaborative website that is editable on-line by the contributors. A database contains the composition and nutritive data, equations and calculation processes.
• A database containing more than 2 million raw data has been established.
• Specifications have been drawn up for researching information and writing datasheets.
• Collaborations have begun with Gembloux Agrobiotech (Belgium), the Hassan II Institute (Morocco) and the University of Cordoba (Spain). Other institutions are interested in participating.
• A first batch of 100 datasheets will be produced by the end of 2010.
• Establishing a formal methodology for calculating final table values
• Generation of approximately 200 datasheets per year for the next 3 years.
• Finding new partners in other countries in order to increase the breadth of both data collection and expertise
• Development of a website in partnership with the FAO. The website content will be maintained on a permanent basis to provide updated information to feed users.