Knowledge for Development

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The technological edge for animal feed producers

New portable devices are helping the animal feed industry to blur the lines between the lab and the field. By eliminating the need to ship samples to centralized labs, handheld analysers provide fast, actionable results at the point of need. The ability to test at multiple stages in the supply chain is important for traceability as well as quality. For feed manufacturers, the demand for greater efficiency, transparency and performance will only increase. To stay ahead of the competition – and reduce the costs of quality control procedures – the industry will continue to adapt, and technologies such as portable NIR (near-infrared) spectroscopy technology will play an increasingly important role. Moving precision and efficiency from the lab to the wider supply chain is one way that smart feed producers can achieve new levels of growth. (, 19/12/2014)


The technological edge for animal feed producers

New portable devices are helping the animal feed industry to blur the lines between the lab and the field. By eliminating the need to ship samples to centralized labs, handheld analysers provide fast, actionable results at the point of need. The ability to test at multiple stages in the supply chain is important for traceability as well as quality. For feed manufacturers, the demand for greater efficiency, transparency and performance will only increase. To stay ahead of the competition – and reduce the costs of quality control procedures – the industry will continue to adapt, and technologies such as portable NIR (near-infrared) spectroscopy technology will play an increasingly important role. Moving precision and efficiency from the lab to the wider supply chain is one way that smart feed producers can achieve new levels of growth. (, 19/12/2014)


Seaweed species may have promising nutritive value for animal feed

A promising opportunity exists for specific seaweed species based on the analysis of the nutritional value. The study carried out by the Centre for Animal Nutrition, Wageningen UR, The Netherlands, assessed the nutritional value of various seaweed species from different locations in Europe and the influence of a bio refinery process on the value of the residue. Results emphasise the importance of adequate selection of species and the need for further work to be confirm the results based on in vivo digestibility and performance studies.   (, 01/10/2014)


Global database: Cattle genome cracked in detail

The detailed knowledge of the variation in the cattle genome has been increased by several orders of magnitude by the creation of a global database containing data from the breeds Angus, Holstein, Jersey and Fleckvieh and the genomes of more than 1,200 animals. The first generation of the new data resource, which will be open access, consists of sequenced genomes for a number of bulls and are based on new sequencing techniques. The research was published in Nature Genetics and led by Hans D Daetwyler of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Australia. Scientists from other countries are encouraged to join the project, to ensure a continual inflow of data. Key ancestor bulls have daughters all around the world, so it is a considerable strength of the project that such data are connected into one database.   (ScienceDaily, 03/10/2014)


Genome-wide patterns of adaptation to climate-mediated selective pressures in sheep

Unlike numerous studies that have looked for evidence of selection using only population genetic data, Feng-Hua Lv, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, with an international team of researchers scanned the sheep genome for selection signals by integrating genetic and climatic data. They found that adaptations to local climates have shaped the spatial distribution of particular genetic variants and, thus, such loci are likely involved in sheep adaptation to environmental challenges. Further molecular and functional studies of candidate genes close to significant markers will help to elucidate the genetic architecture of climate-mediated adaptive traits in sheep and other farm animals.   (École Polytechnique Fédérale du Lausanne, 01/08/2014)


Scientists race to develop farm animals to survive climate change

A report in the Los Angeles Times details the efforts Carl Schmidt and his colleagues at the University of Delaware, USA, put into developing heat-resistant chickens. They are trying to map the genetic code of African naked neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of US broilers.   (Los Angeles Times, 03/05/2014)    Editor's note: Julius Kofi Hagan, at the Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, was awarded the third prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition for his research on developing chicken breeds that can be highly productive under the hot and humid environments of the tropics. The research undertaken in this breeding programme involved introducing two heat-tolerant genes – the naked neck (Na) and frizzle (F) traits – into chicken of the Lohman Brown, an imported bird of hybrid origin, to make them more productive in Ghana.   How can the benefits from developing improved breeds in the US based on indigenous genetic resources from Africa be shared? What are the policy instruments? K4D has been advised by Prof Luke Mumba that there are a number of on-going efforts on the African continent to protect and at the same time sustainably utilise Africa’s biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.  Through the support of NEPAD/SANBio,  the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre has published policy guidelines on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in June 2013 (  At  continental level, the AUC is working on Policy Guidelines to govern access, use and protection of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.   


Better livestock diets to combat climate change and improve food security

New research of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria shows that the projected transition of livestock systems from pure grazing diets to diets supplemented by higher quality feeds will cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 23% by 2030. While the reduction of meat in the diets is often seen as a way to reduce GHG emissions, the paper explains that farmers would find it more profitable in coming years to expand livestock production in mixed systems – where livestock are fed on both grass as well as higher quality feed –rather than in pure grass-based systems. Such a development would lead to a 23% reduction of emissions from land use change in the next two decades without any explicit climate mitigation policy. This new study projects that the increasing cost of land and continued yield increases in the crop sector will lead to shifts to richer animal diets in the future. Such diets are efficient not only from the perspective of greenhouse gas reduction, but also from farm profit maximization and food production.   (IIASA, 25/02/2014)


Efficiency of extensive livestock systems in harsh environments

A recent study conducted by CIRAD in four different world regions shows that extensive dairy systems in Mali can be more efficient than intensive systems in Reunion Island, and just as efficient as semi-intensive systems in western France. The research team at CIRAD obtained this result using the emergy methodology, which uses one type of unit to evaluate all the resources consumed to generate food or non-food products. This methodology takes into account the complex and multifunctional nature of livestock systems, especially extensive ones. Emergy could be a useful tool enabling decision-makers to develop livestock policies adapted to suit individual contexts, and to thereby meet the growing demand for livestock products.   (CIRAD, 07/02/2014)


Milk protein from the high-producing Holstein cows source of lactose intolerance

Humans who exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance could be unable to digest A1, a protein most often found in milk from the high-producing Holstein cows favoured by American and some European industrial dairies. The A1 protein is much less prevalent in milk from Jersey, Guernsey, and most Asian and African cow breeds, where, instead, the A2 protein predominates. The difference between A1 and A2 proteins is subtle. The A2 variety of beta-casein mutated into the A1 version several thousand years ago in some European dairy herds. Two genes code for beta-casein, so modern cows can either be purely A2, A1/A2 hybrids, or purely A1. Milk from goats and humans contains only the A2 beta-casein, yet not everyone likes the flavour of goat milk, which also contains comparatively less vitamin B-12 – a nutrient essential for creating red blood cells.  Editor’s note: Another reason to promote local breeds for dairy production? Consumer adoption of dairy products in developing countries could well be determined by the content of A2 protein.   (Mother Jones, 12/03/2014)


Sustainable integrated aquaculture development in Sierra Leone

Olapade Olufemi Julius, lecturer in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management at Njala University, Sierra Leone and Regional Coordinator at CORAF/WECARD, describes the recently launched fish-cum-rice, piggery and poultry production project (SIARP) in Sierra Leone. Through the introduction of appropriate technological interventions compatible with grassroots experience, it is hoped that this integrated agriculture and aquaculture technology will sustain judicious and economical use of water, land and other resources. Within such systems, the components in the farm's nutrient cycle are used more efficiently.   (DRUSSA, 24/01/2014)


Agriculture: steps to sustainable livestock

Mark Eisler, Michael Lee (both working at the School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, UK) and colleagues highlight eight strategies to cut the environmental and economic costs of livestock farming systems while boosting net gains for the quantity and quality of the food they produce. Examples of their strategies are: feed animals less human food (using local crop residues and opening marginal areas to grazing); raise regionally appropriate animals (using adapted breeds reduces the cost of feed and veterinary services); keep animals healthy (with better animal management to contain transmissible disease and lower animal density); and adopt smart supplements (supplement made from plant extracts found locally can provide feed protein, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia). The authors suggest that governments and policy-makers should support research efforts to identify the most beneficial microbes and most limiting nutrients, as well as low-cost ways to deliver them. Other strategies include eating meat of better quality, tailor practices to local culture, track cost and benefits, and study best practices.   (Nature, 06/03/2014)


Exploring global changes in nitrogen and phosphorus cycles in agriculture induced by livestock production over the 1900–2050 period

Crop-livestock production systems are the largest cause of human alteration of the global nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles. This research report by Mario Herrero (ed) of ILRI is a comprehensive spatially explicit inventory of N and P budgets in livestock and crop production systems. It shows that in the beginning of the 20th century, nutrient budgets were either balanced and surpluses if any were small and that between 1900 and 1950, global soil N surplus almost doubled and P surplus increased by a factor of 8. Between 1950 and 2000, the global surplus of N increased by almost 400% and that of P to more than 500%. Most surplus N is an environmental loss and surplus P is lost by runoff or accumulates as residual soil P. Despite rapidly increasing recovery of N and P in crop and livestock, global nutrient surpluses continue to increase. Alternative management of livestock production systems shows that combinations of intensification, better integration of animal manure in crop production, and matching N and P supply to livestock requirements can effectively reduce nutrient flows. A shift in human diets, with poultry or pork replacing beef, can reduce nutrient flows in countries with intensive ruminant production.     (PNAS, 24/12/2013)    


Expert consultation on ‘Managing Trans-boundary Diseases of Agricultural Importance in the Asia-Pacific’, Proceedings and Recommendations

To provide a common platform for addressing trans-boundary diseases (TBDs), the biotechnology programme of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), known as Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB), in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) organised this Expert Consultation on 10 – 12 October 2012 in New Delhi. The meeting took stock of the status of occurrence and impact of TBDs, progress in R&D, and current and future needs to manage these diseases so as to minimise their impacts. Key recommendations concerning TBDs in plants, animal and fish and their management in the region include better documentation and capacity for diagnostic  of TBDs, regional-level surveillance, reliable anti-serum/vaccines banks, preparedness and rapid response infrastructure., 01/12/2013)


Livestock disease policies: Building bridges between animal science and economics

In June 2013 the OECD organised the conference ‘Livestock disease policies: Building bridges between animal science and economics’. This conference focused on how economics, working together with animal sciences, can contribute to a comprehensive and efficient management of livestock disease risks. The four key themes covered were: 1) how to generate a constructive dialogue to reduce and manage uncertainties; 2) the economic assessment of the impacts of animal diseases and control measures; 3) the impact of policy on economic incentives for animal keepers and the food system; and 4) policymaking and communication in an uncertain world. One broad recommendation states that economists, epidemiologists and policy makers need to communicate clearly with each other to ensure better policies for managing livestock diseases. All presentations and proceedings are available online., 12/2013)


Imposing user fees on the non-human use of antibiotics in the agriculture and aquaculture industries

Economics professor Aidan Hollis at the University of Calgary, Canada and co-author Ziana Ahmed published their research on viable ways to avoid the potential health crisis posed by the current overuse of antibiotics in the sector. They show that imposing a user fee on the non-human uses of antibiotics, similar to the way in which logging companies pay stumpage fees and oil companies pay royalties, would deter the low-value use of antibiotics, with higher costs encouraging farmers to improve their animal management methods and to adopt better substitutes for the drugs, such as vaccinations. Hollis also suggests that an international treaty could ideally be imposed. Such a treaty might have a fair chance of attaining international compliance, as governments tend to be motivated by revenue collection., 25/12/2013)


6th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture

Date: 27–30 October 2014    Venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya  Deadline for the second and last call for papers is 31 March 2014    This conference’ theme is ‘Africa’s Animal Agriculture: Macro-trends and future opportunities’. It is being organised jointly by the Animal Production Society of Kenya (APSK) and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF) in conjunction with the All Africa Society for Animal Production (AASAP).   The overarching aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity for African scientists and the broader stakeholder groups in the livestock sector to discuss the potential role of animal agriculture to improve the livelihoods of African people. The broader objective of this grand assembly will be met by attempting, through discussions of a series of papers, to answer the various questions rotating around the thematic areas. It is hoped that, at the end of the conference, there will be specific recommendations for the key questions.  

Monday 27 October 2014 - Thursday 30 October 2014

Scientists unlock secret of cattle ticks' resistance to pesticide

Through frequent treatment of cattle with acarides – pesticides for ticks and mites – mainly amitraz, ivermectins and pyrethroids, ticks have become increasingly resistant to these pesticides. Nicholas Jonsson of the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow, UK and colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia, have now discovered how ticks develop resistance to one of the main pesticides. The scientists have identified the genetic basis for at least one form of resistance to amitraz which will allow a genetic test for resistance to be developed. This research paves the way for a new genetic test for resistance that will help farmers make management decisions for the control of ticks. This will also enable empirical studies on field and laboratory populations of ticks to test the effectiveness of resistance management strategies.   (EurekAlert, 07/10/2013) 


Agronews Antilles-Guyane N°3

The latest edition of Cirad’s AGRONews, a journal documenting agricultural research in the Caribbean, contains articles on the role of networks in innovation transfer, the sequencing of the banana genome, soil rehabilitation techniques in pineapple plantations, efforts to fight cercosporiosis. It also features a dossier on cattle tick diseases in the region., 25/10/2013)


African breed of cattle may harbor potential defence against trypanosomosis

One West-African dwarf cattle breed, the Baoulé, seems less affected by trypanosomosis than others. The scientists behind the discovery have developed a method that can identify the parasites responsible for trypanosomosis and can even detect three different forms of the parasite in a single step. The information is extremely valuable to veterinarians and farmers as each type of trypanosome causes a slightly different disease progression and requires a different type of treatment. The researchers used their new method to examine samples of blood from apparently healthy Baoulé cattle, Indian Zebu cattle and crosses between the two breeds. It seems that the Baoulé's immune system can tolerate higher levels of the blood parasite. When they are infected, Baoulé cattle develop fever and lose weight but do not necessarily die.    (ScienceDaily, 27/09/2013)


Overgrazing rangelands promotes locust outbreaks

A team of scientists from Arizona State, Colorado State, McGill and Yale universities have launched a collaborative project to learn how human behavior, market forces and ecological systems interact over time to affect the outcomes of locust swarms. The researchers will conduct studies in China, Senegal and Australia. They are building on previous research in China that demonstrated that overgrazing rangelands promotes locust outbreaks, in part because overgrazing lowers the amount of nitrogen in plants.   (, 30/09/2013)