October 20, 2015


French-led research to improve monogastric production



A five-year, US$11 million backed Horizon 2020 Feed-a-Gene project aims at making monogastric production more efficient and sustainable while helping Europe to reduce its dependency on imported protein sources.


"We are looking to increase the use of feed resources such as by-products of biofuel production or green biomass or to better exploit raw materials to generate protein fractions suitable for each market segment. This can help producers become less reliant on cereal-based feeds that are needed for food production," said Jaap van Milgen, the Feed-a-Gene project coordinator from French agricultural research institute INRA.


The partners in the consortium, he said, are also looking to identify and select robust animals that can use these "poorer quality" feeds more efficiently, and also swine that can cope better with conditions such as heat stress or sanitary challenges.


"Another goal of one of the eight work packages included in the project is the identification of indicators of efficiency such as digestion biomarkers. We also want to look at the kinetics of feed intake to understand the impact of environment and other factors on feeding patterns," he added.


The project involves 23 partners from eight European countries along with China. "China is facing similar challenges in its monogastric production systems but perhaps on an even greater scale. Politically the EU Commission is encouraging further collaboration with China in terms of research as that country has long been orientated towards the US," revealed van Milgen.


The European research and higher education institutes involved include IRTA in Spain, Aarhus University in Denmark, Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Newcastle University in the UK.


There are nine industry partners including companies focused on livestock production, animal breeding technologies, feed production and transformation, and equipment for precision feeding.


"Through our tie-ups with companies such as DuPont or Bühler, we will be exploring the benefits of various enzymes in pig and poultry diets, as well as evaluating the feed in terms of the impact of particle size and whether heat or enzyme treatments make nutrients more bioavailable," said van Milgen.


The coordinators of the different work packages will also call on the expertise of other industry stakeholders as they see fit over the next few years, he said.


The first project results will be released in about a year.

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