Categoria: 23 ESPN

Wolfgang Siegert
Department of Animal Science, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany
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Poultry meat and eggs currently are the most common animal-based foods worldwide. Production of animal-based food requires land area and water, mainly through the production of feed crops.
1 Hence, arable land and water for feed cropping is expected to become an increasingly scarce resource. Another aspect is the environmental impact of animal farming, which has led to growing concerns over the past decades. Feed production and emissions from excreta represent the major impacts of animal farming in this regard.

2 Major environmentally relevant impacts of feed production include energy consumption of crop farming and transport, emissions from the fields, and the consequences of land-use change when crops are cultivated on converted forests or grasslands. Regarding excreta, the major environmentally relevant impacts include nitrogenous emissions (ammonia, nitrates, nitrous oxide), phosphorus emissions, or fine particles. These emissions contribute to climate change, acidification, eutrophication, and pollution of air and water. Aims of farm animal nutrition research include to minimise the negative effects of farm animal husbandry on the environment, to ensure animal health and well-being as well as to contribute to global food availability. Investigations identifying requirements for nitrogenous compounds, mainly amino acids (AA), and evaluating feed ingredients and feed additives contribute to these aims.
3 Animal nutrition research allows to reduce the needed amount of feed crops and the environmental impact of poultry farming. A key figure to assess the efficiency of the production of animal-based food is the nitrogen (N) utilisation efficiency (NUE), which is the N accretion in body weight or eggs relative to the N intake. Increasing the NUE results in less feed protein needed and reduced N excretion per produced animal-based food.

This contribution aims to summarise the current knowledge on increasing the NUE in the context of saving feed crops and reducing the environmental impact. A focus is set on an increasingly precise alignment of the supply with and the requirement for digestible AA. Conflict-of-aims among sustainability goals are worked out.

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