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Reducing environmental impacts of feed using multiobjective formulation: What benefits at the farm gate for pig and broiler production?

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Bertrand Méda (Inrae) et al., Animal, 2021, volume 15, n° 1, janvier, 9 pages

Feed production is the main contributor to several environmental impacts of livestock. To decrease environmental impacts of feed, those of feedstuffs should be considered during formulation. In particular, multiobjective feed formulation (MOF) can help reduce several environmental impacts simultaneously while keeping any increase in feed price moderate. The objective of this study was to assess environmental benefits of MOF at the farm gate for fattening pigs and broilers. For pigs, three feeding strategies were tested: classic 2-phase (2P), 2-phase with lower net energy content (2P −), and multiphase (MP). For broilers, two strategies were tested: classic 3-phase (3P) and 3-phase with higher digestible amino acid contents and lower metabolisable energy content (3P +). Diets were formulated using both least-cost formulation (LCF) and MOF, yielding six pig scenarios and four broiler scenarios. Environmental impacts at the farm gate were estimated using a modelling approach based on life cycle assessment. Indicators for six impact categories were then calculated: climate change (CC), cumulative non-renewable energy demand (CEDNR), acidification (AC), eutrophication (EU), land occupation (LO), and phosphorus demand (PD). As expected, MOF had lower farm-gate impacts than LCF (as much as − 13%), but the degree of decrease varied by feeding strategy and impact. For pigs, MOF was equally effective in all strategies at reducing PD (− 6 to − 9%) and AC (− 2%). In contrast, MOF was more effective in 2P and 2P − at decreasing CC (− 5% to − 7%), LO (− 9% to − 13%) and EU (− 6% to − 8%) than in MP (CC: − 2%; LO: − 4%; EU: − 3%). The benefit of MOF was found greater in 2P (− 7%) than in other pig strategies for CEDNR (− 3 to + 0%). For broilers, MOF was equally effective in both strategies tested at decreasing PD (− 12%), AC (− 2%), and EU (− 4%). For CC and CEDNR, MOF was more effective in 3P (CC: − 9%; CEDNR: − 11%) than 3P + (− 6% for both impacts), but not for LO (+ 3% in 3P vs − 1% in 3P +). These differences were due mainly to differences in animal performance (especially feed conversion ratio) among the strategies tested. Finally, in all scenarios, gross margin at the farm gate decreased with MOF comparatively to LCF (pigs: − 3% to − 11%); broilers: − 7% to − 11%). These results demonstrate the importance of comprehensive economic and environmental optimisation of feeding strategies by simultaneously considering feed impacts, animal performance, and manure management. To do so, further research is therefore required to develop new modelling tools.

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