On Our Plate: Research and Innovation for Livestock Health and Productivity

Posted by on May 15th, 2017 | 0 Comments »

The growing demand for meat, dairy and other animal products by an increasingly affluent global population will require significant increases in animal agriculture research aimed at increasing productivity, quality and safety of animal food products while ensuring optimal animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Since 1925, U.S. poultry broiler mortality has declined from 18 percent of flocks to 3.7 percent, while the weight of the average broiler increased from 2.5 pounds to just over 6 pounds and now uses less feed per pound of broiler. These improvements are the result of research and adoption of breeding technologies and better genetics, research into poultry nutrition needs and development of better feeds at lower environmental impact, as well as use of poultry health products and care practices.

Productivity enhancements in livestock farming and processing have been made feasible by a sustained commitment to public-funded research. Accordingly, research and development is key not only to ensuring this innovation continues, but also that it is extended globally.

For many small-scale farmers, low livestock productivity remains a challenge.  Africa, for example, has 20 percent of the dairy cattle in the world, but produces only 5 percent of the global milk supply. North America and Europe, on the other hand, have only 19 percent of the dairy cattle and produce more than 50 percent of the milk supply. Improving the milk productivity per cow will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the availability of an important source of animal protein in a country where 45 percent of the population is malnourished.

Improving dairy cattle productivity in Africa and Asia would reduce methane emissions and increase the availability of an important source of protein in regions where many people are malnourished. Source: 2015 GAP Report®, page 57.


The articles below provide examples of how agricultural R&D and extension help farmers around the world improve the health and productivity of their livestock, while reducing the carbon footprint of livestock production.

Building Capacity to Promote Livestock Health in Latin America
2016 GAP Report, page 42.

Vaccination Program Increases Livestock Productivity
2015 GAP Report®, page 57.

The Poultry Revolution Picks Up Pace in India
2014 GAP Report®, pages 44-45.

Poultry vaccine site in Winslow opens facility for individually tailored vaccines
Kennebec Journal, May 3, 2,017

Uganda: Livestock Health and Climate Smart Farming Practices
AllAfrica.com, May 2, 2017



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