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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Precision Feeding: Opportunities and Limitations

Author
item Cole, Noel

Submitted to: Proceeding of Plains Nutrition Council Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 3, 2003
Publication Date: April 3, 2003
Citation: Cole, N.A. Precision Feeding: Opportunities and Limitations. Proceeding of Plains Nutrition Council Spring Conference. 2003. AREC 03-13. p. 1-19.

Interpretive Summary: Protein requirements and protein utilization by ruminants have been extensively evaluated. However, in recent years, protein nutrition is again the focus of research because of the potential impact of nitrogen (N) on the environment. Excess nutrients (N, P, etc.) in manure can pose a threat to soil, water, and air quality. Diet composition can influence the quantity and chemical composition of manure produced, affect the composition of runoff from feedyards or fields fertilized with feedlot manure, and also affect air quality by altering the emissions of ammonia, dust, and odors from feedyards and fields. This paper discusses current nutritional and management technologies that are potentially available to decrease adverse effects of feedyards on the environment as well as their limitations and factors restricting their use by the industry. The use of many technologies such as phase feeding and precision feeding are limited at the present time because of logistic, animal health, and risk factors. But, in the future, nutritionists will need to adapt technologies to meet new environmental regulations. Nutritionists and scientists need to work together to modify and develop technologies that can be used in the future to meet new regulations and to balance animal performance, risk, and environmental concerns.

Technical Abstract: The general public is demanding that everyone - and that includes agriculture - be held accountable for their impact on the environment. This could mean big changes for American agriculture and the livestock industries in particular. Today, and in the future, we will need to balance animal production with environmental risks. Several nutritional technologies have been proposed as methods to decrease nutrient intake and excretion by feedlot cattle. It has been suggested that dietary protein concentrations (ie. N) can be decreased and has been termed "Precision feeding." However, factors such as variability in animals requirements, variability in feed composition, environment, and other factors limit the applicability of this technology at the present time. Phase feeding (ie. decreasing protein concentrations late in the feeding period) has promise but logistic and possible animal health concerns limit its use at the present time. Nutritionists will need to adapt technologies to meet some new environmental regulations. In the near future "safety margins" in diet formulation may have to be decreased. At the present time, the best opportunity probably toward the end of the feeding period - the time period when we can probably have the greatest effect on nutrient excretion and gaseous emissions. The use of many technologies such as phase feeding and precision feeding are limited at the present time. However, nutritionists and scientists need to work together to modify and develop technologies that can be used in the future to meet new regulations and to balance animal performance, risk, and environmental concerns.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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