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Animal Agriculture: Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations

Animal Agriculture: Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations

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Animal Agriculture: Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations

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1,430 pagine
15 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 25, 2019
ISBN:
9780128170533
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Animal Agriculture: Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations discusses the land-based production of high-quality protein by livestock and poultry and how it plays an important role in improving human nutrition, growth and health. With exponential growth of the global population and marked rises in meat consumption per capita, demands for animal-source protein are expected to increase 72% between 2013 and 2050. This raises concerns about the sustainability and environmental impacts of animal agriculture. An attractive solution to meeting increasing needs for animal products and mitigating undesirable effects of agricultural practices is to enhance the efficiency of animal growth, reproduction, and lactation.

Currently, there is no resource that offers specific knowledge of both animal science and technology, including biotechnology for the sustainability of animal agriculture for the expanding global demand of food in the face of diminishing resources. This book fills that gap, giving readers all the necessary information on important issues facing modern animal agriculture, namely its sustainability, challenges and innovative solutions.

  • Integrates new knowledge in animal breeding, biotechnology, nutrition, reproduction and management
  • Addresses the urgent issue of sustainability in modern animal agriculture
  • Provides practical solutions on how to solve the current and future problems that face animal agriculture worldwide
Pubblicato:
Oct 25, 2019
ISBN:
9780128170533
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

Animal Agriculture - Academic Press

Animal Agriculture

Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations

Editors

Fuller W. Bazer

G. Cliff Lamb

Guoyao Wu

Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page

Copyright

Contributors

Foreword

Chapter 1. Introduction: significance, challenges and strategies of animal production

Introduction

Important roles of animal-source food in human health

Global animal agriculture including aquaculture

Potential impacts of animal agriculture on human food supply and the ecosystem

Major challenges to the sustainability of animal agriculture and potential solutions

Companion animals in agriculture

Conclusion

I. Beef cattle production

Chapter 2. Genetics and breeding of beef cattle

Historical overview of breeding programs

Quantitative nature of economically important traits—an intrinsic challenge in selection

Advances in genomic technologies and genomic selection

Future genomic information

Where genomic selection can have a great impact for the beef industry?

Genomics and sustainability

Genetic improvement in climate resilience traits

New genomic technologies

Chapter 3. Physiology and pregnancy of beef cattle

Introduction

Puberty

Regulation of the estrous cycle

Establishment and maintenance of pregnancy

Physiological changes during gestation

Endocrinology of pregnancy

Embryonic and fetal loss

Parturition and postpartum anestrus

Chapter 4. Reproductive management of beef cattle

Introduction

Challenges

Available strategies

Conclusion

Chapter 5. Nutrition, feeding and management of beef cattle in intensive and extensive production systems

Introduction

Confined production systems

Extensive production systems

Nutrient management in beef cattle production systems

Greenhouse gas emissions

Implications of climate change

Conclusion

II. Lactation and management of dairy cattle

Chapter 6. Genetics and genomics of dairy cattle

Introduction

The basics of genetic selection

Selection for traits that increase income

Selection for traits that reduce expenses

Selection for multiple traits

Genomic selection: the latest revolution

Effective use of genomics: sire selection

Effective use of genomics: replacement heifer selection

Novel traits in the genomics era

Managing inbreeding and genetic diversity

Final remarks

Chapter 7. Physiology of lactation in dairy cattle—challenges to sustainable production

Current state of affairs

Mammary growth and function

Nutrition and metabolism

Reproduction

Genetic innovations

Animal health and well-being

Housing and monitoring

Chapter 8. Reproductive management of dairy cattle

Introduction

Control of the reproductive cycle

Sequential development and efficacy of reproductive management programs

Resynchronization for TAI in cows diagnosed non-pregnant to first TAI

Economic and sustainable outcomes of reproductive management

Sustainability of reproductive performance

Chapter 9. Nutrition and feeding of dairy cattle

Introduction

Dairy calf and heifer nutrition and development

Nutrition of the dairy cow

Conclusion

III. Sheep and goat production

Chapter 10. Genetics and breeding of sheep and goats

Introduction

Sheep and goat domestication

Breed classification

Genomic basis for breed variation

Genetic evaluation and genomic selection

Sheep and goat breeding programs

Advanced technologies related to small ruminant breeding

Conclusions

Chapter 11. Reproductive physiology of sheep (Ovis aries) and goats (Capra aegagrus hircus)

Introduction

Reproductive tract anatomy

Chapter 12. Reproductive management of sheep and goats

Introduction

Breeding systems

Genetic selection

Pre-breeding

Breeding season

Seasonality

Gestation

Lambing and kidding

Weaning

Advanced reproductive technology

Conclusion

Chapter 13. Sustainable sheep and goat production through strategic nutritional management and advanced technologies

Forages and grazing systems for sustainable farming practices

Concluding statements

IV. Swine production

Chapter 14. Modern genetic and genomic improvement of the pig

Introduction

Domestication of swine and breed development

Methods of selection and mating systems

Traits of economic importance

Initial development of molecular genetic approaches

QTL, candidate genes and genetic improvement

Sequencing the pig genome

Genomic selection

Databases

Cloning, transgenics, gene editing, and breeding pigs as biological models

Future developments and applications to genetic improvement

Chapter 15. Reproductive physiology of swine

Introduction

Boar physiology

Sow physiology

Pregnancy

Parturition

Lactation

Chapter 16. Reproductive management of swine

Introduction

Management during the developmental phase

Management during the transition from the developmental to the functional phase

Management of boars during the functional phase

Management of sows during the functional phase

Summary

Chapter 17. Nutrition and feeding of swine

Introduction

Neonatal pig nutrition

Nutrition of nursery pigs

Nutrition of weaner to finisher pigs

Nutrition for gilt development

Sow nutrition

Conclusion

V. Poultry production

Chapter 18. Poultry genetics and breeding

A brief history of poultry production

Genetic improvement: progress and future directions

Global challenges and opportunities

Future technologies in poultry breeding

Poultry genetics resources

Summary

Chapter 19. Reproductive physiology of poultry

Introduction

Ovary structure

Regulation of egg production

Ovarian hormones

Yolk accumulation

Laying hen production differs from broiler breeder hen production

Ensuring a supply of healthy chicks

Conclusion

Chapter 20. Reproductive management of poultry

Introduction

Physiological control of reproduction

Egg development

Male reproduction

Hormonal control of reproduction

Light and reproduction

Nutrition and reproductive management

Broiler breeder reproduction

Induced molting or re-cycling to increase egg production

Other aspects of reproductive management in poultry

Uses of components of eggs

Chapter 21. Precision poultry nutrition and feed formulation

Introduction

Current state of poultry science within the United States

A brief history of the National Research Council's nutrient requirements of poultry

Evolution of NRC broiler diets

Precision nutrition of poultry in the 21st century

Modern industry type broiler diets

VI. Biotechnologies and others in animal production

Chapter 22. Muscle biology and meat quality – challenges, innovations, and sustainability

Sustainability of beef production in the world

Growth and development of muscle

Beef quality

Use of ß-adrenergic agonists in livestock production

ß-adrenergic agonists and meat quality

Chapter 23. Genetic improvement of livestock, from conventional breeding to biotechnological approaches

History of animal breeding

Genetic improvement of livestock

Genomics revolution

Identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL)

Marker-assisted and genomic selection

Biotechnological solutions to advance genetic improvement

Assisted reproductive technologies

Genetic engineering

Early work on transgenesis in livestock

Site directed nucleases

Genetic improvement of livestock through genetic engineering

The whole toolbox

Chapter 24. Fermentation techniques in feed production

Introduction

Production of fermented feed

Microbial ecology of the fermented feed

Safety considerations of fermented feed

Perspective and future directions

Chapter 25. Mathematical modeling in animal production

Introduction

Classifications of mathematical models

A brief history of current mathematical models in ruminant production

Advanced data analytics for future mathematical models

Conclusion

Chapter 26. Manure treatment and utilization in production systems

Introduction

Manure processing and handling

Manure treatment

Manure utilization

VII. Management of animal diseases in livestock and poultry production

Chapter 27. Management of metabolic disorders (including metabolic diseases) in ruminant and nonruminant animals

Introduction

Disorders caused by abnormal metabolism, deficiencies or excesses of carbohydrates

Disorders caused by abnormal metabolism, deficiencies or excesses of lipids

Disorders caused by abnormal metabolism, deficiencies or excesses of amino acids

Disorders caused by deficiencies or excesses of vitamins

Disorders caused by deficiencies or excesses of minerals

Conclusion

Chapter 28. Management of pathogens in cattle

Management of pathogens in cattle

Chapter 29. Management of pathogens in swine

Introduction

Swine raising environments

Swine housing

Water

Feed

Transportation

Biosecurity protocols

Health programs

Genetic improvements

Conclusion

Chapter 30. Management of pathogens in poultry

Introduction

Common infectious diseases and pathogens in poultry farms

Challenges of pathogen management in poultry production enterprises

Key role of biosecurity practices for healthy flocks

Disease prevention and management through vaccination

Use of antimicrobials

Index

Copyright

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Contributors

Giridhar Athrey,     Avian Genetics & Functional Genomics, Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Samuel K. Baidoo,     Southern Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota, Waseca, MN, United States

Christopher A. Bailey,     Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Frank F. Bartol,     Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, United States

Fuller W. Bazer,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Dingren Bi

State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Key Laboratory of Preventive Medicine in Hubei Province, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Leasea D. Butler,     Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States

Alex V. Chaves,     School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Lu Cui,     State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China

Geoffrey E. Dahl,     Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Zhaolai Dai,     State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China

Brandon J. Dominguez,     Department of Veterinary Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Peter S. Erickson,     Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States

Eduardo Eustaquio de Souza Figueiredo,     Department of Food and Nutrition, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Cuiaba, MT

Priscilla R. Evans,     School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

William L. Flowers,     Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, United States

Pedro L.P. Fontes,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Gessica A. Franco,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Rodney D. Geisert,     Division of Animals, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Elisha Gootwine,     Institute of Animal Science, The Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion, Israel

Lina Guo,     State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China

Patricia A. Johnson,     Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States

Kenneth F. Kalscheur,     U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ARS, Madison, WI, United States

Michael T. Kidd,     Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States

G. Cliff Lamb,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Ju Li,     Henan Yinfa Animal Husbandry Co., Xinzheng, Henan, China

Zong Liu,     Department of Biological and Agriculture Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Matthew C. Lucy,     Division of Animals, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Hayford Manu,     Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, United States

Raluca G. Mateescu,     Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Tim A. McAllister,     Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Susan A. McCoard,     AgResearch Grasslands Ltd., Palmerston North, New Zealand

Hector Manuel Menendez III ,     Texas A&M University, Department of Animal Science, College Station, TX, United States

Ashley E. Meyer,     Division of Animals, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Benny E. Mote,     Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States

Nicola Oosthuizen,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Francisco Peñagaricano,     Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Ky G. Pohler,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Reid Redden,     Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, San Angelo, TX, United States

Sydney T. Reese,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Gabriel Ribeiro,     Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Jason W. Ross,     Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States

Max F. Rothschild,     Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States

José E.P. Santos,     Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Colin G. Scanes,     Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States

Blythe Schultz,     Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States

Nick Serão,     Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States

Bang Shen

State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Key Laboratory of Preventive Medicine in Hubei Province, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Stephen B. Smith,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Michael F. Smith,     Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Kim Stanford,     Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Agriculture Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Claire S. Stephens,     Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States

David R. Stevens,     AgResearch Invermay, Mosgiel, New Zealand

Peter Sutvosky

Division of Animals, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Luis Orlindo Tedeschi,     Texas A&M University, Department of Animal Science, College Station, TX, United States

William W. Thatcher,     Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Jacob W. Thorne,     Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, San Angelo, TX, United States

Xiao Wang,     Department of Biological and Agriculture Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Binggen Wang,     Henan Yinfa Animal Husbandry Co., Xinzheng, Henan, China

Kevin E. Washburn,     Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College Station, TX, United States

Travis R. Whitney,     Texas A&M AgriLife Research, San Angelo, TX, United States

Guoyao Wu,     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Zhenlong Wu,     State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China

Zutao Zhou

State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Key Laboratory of Preventive Medicine in Hubei Province, Wuhan, Hubei Province, PR China

Weiyun Zhu,     National Center for International Research on Animal Gut Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Foreword

The expectations of agriculture and the food supply have never been greater. No longer is the production of food seen as the primary goal, but rather agricultural systems are expected to: (1) improve human health, (2) have very minimal impact on the environment including water use and the generation of environmental contaminants, (3) promote strong local and regional economies as well as (4) maintain the profitability for producers to ensure future generations of farmers. These expectations, and the tradeoffs among these outcomes, were recently described in a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine - A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System [1].

There is a general consensus that transformative advancements in agriculture systems will be essential to meet the food and nutrient needs of the growing world population through 2050. Enhancements are needed not only to increase production yields, but equally important to increase the human and environmental health-promoting qualities of the food system. Diet-related chronic disease costs the United States’ economy billions of dollars in health care costs annually, decreases quality of life and life expectancy, and is a major driver of health care costs globally. Similarly, serious environmental concerns including water scarcity, soil erosion, air quality and agriculture runoff threaten the sustainability of the food supply. Achieving the goal of healthful and sustainable agriculture systems that meet population food and nutrition needs will require substantial advancements in understanding of the food-diet-nutrition-disease connection. This will include the recognition of heterogeneity among humans in the diet-disease relationship that is rooted in our evolutionary history. The metrics, measures and methodologies needed to establish dietary patterns that delay or prevent chronic disease is still in its infancy. Likewise, rapid development of technological solutions are needed to further limit the environmental footprint of agriculture and conserve the natural resources that sustain and conserve the diversity of life on the planet.

Perhaps the great challenge in agriculture will be sustainably meeting the protein, iron and other essential mineral requirements of growing human populations globally. Even today, protein malnutrition and iron-deficiency anemia are commonplace in many parts of the world even among children, who suffer life-long consequences including function deficits as a result of malnutrition during growth and maturation. Increasing the quality and quantity of animal food products, while minimizing the environmental footprint, will require innovations in genetic engineering, reproductive sciences, microbiome science, agricultural and water engineering. This need will intensify with the expected human population expansion and the current increased desirability and demand for animal food products globally. This edited volume brings together leading experts who set the stage by comprehensively addressing the many demands faced by animal agriculture, review the current state of technologies and provides a much-needed roadmap for achieving the new expectations of animal agriculture.

Patrick J. Stover

Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences

Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Reference

[1] Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2015. https://doi.org/10.17226/18846.

Chapter 1

Introduction

significance, challenges and strategies of animal production

Guoyao Wu, Fuller W. Bazer, and G. Cliff Lamb     Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States

Abstract

Livestock, poultry and fish are the biological transformers of low-quality feedstuffs into high-quality protein and highly bioavailable essential minerals in diets of humans. Thus, animal agriculture plays an important role in improving human nutrition, growth and health, as well as economical, political and social stability in society. However, more than 10% of the world's population suffered from chronic deficiencies of nutrients (particularly protein and microminerals) in 2016. Globally, 150   million children under five years of age were stunted in their growth and development in 2017. With exponential growth of the global population and marked increases in meat consumption per capita, demands for animal-source protein are expected to increase 72% between 2013 and 2050. This raises concerns about the efficiency, sustainability and environmental impacts of animal agriculture. An attractive solution to meeting increasing needs for animal products and mitigating undesirable effects of agricultural practices is to enhance the efficiency of animal growth, reproduction, and lactation. The application of techniques in biotechnology is expected to help in achieving this goal. In addition, a promising, mechanism-based approach is to optimize the proportion and amounts of amino acids and other nutrients in diets for maximizing whole-body protein synthesis and feed efficiency. Furthermore, new management skills are required to reduce various environmental and disease-associated stresses in livestock and poultry under practical production conditions. Improvements in farm animal productivity will not only decrease the contamination of soils, groundwater, and air, but will also help sustain animal agricultural production of high-quality protein for the expanding global demand in the face of diminishing resources.

Keywords

Agriculture; Animal; Livestock; Poultry; Sustainability

Introduction

Important roles of animal-source food in human health

Global animal agriculture including aquaculture

Potential impacts of animal agriculture on human food supply and the ecosystem

Potential competition with humans for food and water

Potential impacts of animal production on the environment

Major challenges to the sustainability of animal agriculture and potential solutions

Suboptimal efficiency of protein production by animals

Banning of the use of antibiotics for growth enhancement

Metabolic disorders and infectious diseases

Global warming and cold environment

Companion animals in agriculture

Conclusion

Acknowledgments

References

Introduction

High-quality protein, along with other nutrients, is essential for optimal growth, development, and health of humans. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that in 2016, about 815   million people (10.7% of the world population) were suffering from chronic deficiencies of nutrients, particularly protein, vitamins and microminerals. ¹ Globally, 150   million children under five years of age were estimated to be stunted in growth and development in 2017. ² Malnutrition during gestational and neonatal periods affects not only the first generation of offspring, but also at least two subsequent generations through epigenetic-mediated mechanisms. ³ The challenge of preventing hunger and malnutrition will become even greater as the global population grows from the current 7.2   billion people to 9.6   billion people by 2050. With increases in income, population, and demand for more nutrient-dense foods, global meat production is projected to increase to 192   million tons per year during the next 35   years. ⁴ These changes in population and dietary practices will result in a substantial increase in the demand for food protein, especially animal-source protein.

Livestock, poultry and fish are the biological transformers of low-quality feedstuffs into high-quality protein and highly available essential minerals (e.g., calcium, iron, and zinc). ⁵ Thus, animal agriculture plays an important role in improving human nutrition. However, increased production of food proteins is associated with increased emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) and the over-utilization of water. Consequently, concerns exist regarding impacts of animal agriculture on the environment, ecosystems and sustainability. ⁴ To address these challenging issues, this book comprehensively highlights current reproductive, genetic, nutritional, and management technologies to enhance efficiencies in the production of animal protein, sustain livestock and poultry industries, and reduce the excretion of waste into the environment. Thus, this book provides not only the foundational knowledge of animal science, but also practical solutions to solving current and future problems that face animal agriculture worldwide.

Important roles of animal-source food in human health

Nutritionally essential minerals (e.g., iron and zinc) and vitamins (e.g., the B-complex of vitamins and vitamin A) are supplied from animal-source foods. ⁴ In particular, cow's milk provides an abundance of calcium for bone growth and development, of vitamins and trace minerals for nutrient metabolism, and of conjugated unsaturated fatty acids for improving human health. Of note, animal-source foods are the only dietary source of vitamin B12 for humans. Minerals (e.g., iron, calcium, and zinc) from animal-source foods have greater bioavailabilities for humans than plant-source foods. ⁶ On a dry matter basis, animal-source foods (e.g., eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood) contain greater than 60% protein, whereas most staple foods of plant origin (except for legumes) have protein contents of less than 15% (Table 1.1). Animal proteins contain adequate and balanced amounts of all amino acids for human consumption to promote optimal growth, development, and health. ⁷ In contrast, rice, wheat, corn, potatoes and other non-legume foods are deficient in many amino acids, including those that are not synthesized by the body (lysine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan) and those that are synthesized by the body (glycine and proline). ⁸ Of note, meat and white rice contain 2.98 and 0.27   g sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine plus cysteine) per 100   g dry matter, respectively (Table 1.1). To meet the Institute of Medicine-recommended dietary allowance for these two amino acids by a 70-kg adult human, daily intakes of meat and white rice would be 45 and 493   g dry matter, respectively. Thus, consumption of animal products can meet adequate requirements of humans for protein, particularly children, while substantially reducing the need for plant-based foods or the ingestion of a large amount of starch. This is important for individuals whose metabolic profiles are compromised by high intake of digestible carbohydrates. ⁹ The excessive amount of starch that would be consumed in wheat flour or white rice can be converted into fat in the body, thereby contributing to the development of obesity, dyslipidemia, and other metabolic disorders. ⁹ Conversely, intake of lean meat plays a key role in promoting protein synthesis and sustaining skeletal-muscle mass and function (including physical strength), while improving insulin sensitivity, ameliorating aging-associated sarcopenia, and reducing white fat accretion. ¹⁰

Table 1.1

a  Adopted from Wu et al. (2014). ⁴ To meet the recommended dietary allowance of L-methionine plus L-cysteine for a 70-kg healthy adult (1.33   g/day), the individual would need to consume one of the following foods (g dry matter/day): meat, 45; soybean, 127; wheat, 283; corn, 302; or white rice, 493. Ingestion of meat would substantially reduce that of food grains, while ensuring adequate amino acid nutrition. SAA   =   sulfur-containing amino acids (L-methionine   +   L-cysteine).

Although there is a common belief that there are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants, ⁴ it is animal-source, but not plant-source, foods that supply taurine (a sulfur-containing amino acid), creatine, anserine (β-alanyl-L-1-methylhistidine), and carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine). ⁸ Taurine is essential for the digestion and absorption of dietary fats and lipid-soluble vitamins in humans, and for protecting the eyes, heart, skeletal muscle, and other tissues of humans from oxidative damage and degeneration. ¹¹ Taurine-deficient individuals (particularly children who have a low ability to synthesize taurine from methionine and cysteine) suffer from retinal, cardiac and skeletal muscle dysfunction. ¹² There are reports that adult humans without dietary intake of taurine are at increased risk for taurine deficiency. ¹³,¹⁴ Oral ingestion of 0.4–6   g taurine per day for various days improved (a) metabolic profiles in blood; and (b) cardiovascular functions in healthy subjects, as well as in patients suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, or congestive heart failure. ¹⁵ Creatine is essential for energy metabolism in the brain and skeletal muscle, ¹⁶ and also plays an important role in anti-oxidative reactions. ¹⁷ Adequate provision of dietary creatine may be necessary for maintaining homeostasis and optimal health in humans, ¹⁸ particularly for vegan athletes who generally have a low intake of creatine and its precursors (arginine, methionine and glycine). ¹⁹ Finally, carnosine and anserine are antioxidant dipeptides that protect tissues (e.g., skeletal muscle) from oxidative stress. ²⁰ Besides maintaining neurological and muscular functions, these small peptides can inhibit the growth of tumor cells through redox signaling, while providing patients with amino acids for protein synthesis. ²¹,²² Note that mammalian milk and eggs from poultry contain large amounts of taurine (0.3–1   mM) and that meat is an abundant source of anserine, carnosine, creatine, and taurine, as shown for beef (Table 1.2). ²³,²⁴ Interestingly, these nutrients are absent from plants. ⁷ Furthermore, 4-hydroxyproline, which protects the intestine from inflammation, ²⁵ is abundant in meat and bones, but nearly absent from plants. ²⁶ These nutritional facts highlight the importance of animal agriculture in human nutrition and health.

Table 1.2

a  Adopted from Wu et al. (2016) ²³ for all variables except creatine. Creatine was determined using our HPLC method (Zhang et al. 2018). ²⁴ Chuck   =   under blade roasts; Loin   =   top loin steaks; Round   =   top round steaks.

b  Absent from plants.

c  Abundant in meat, but very low in plants. β-Alanine is required for the synthesis of anserine and carnosine in skeletal muscle.

d  Deficient in all plant proteins, relative to dietary requirements of humans.

e  Marginally adequate in legumes, but markedly deficient in staple food grains (e.g., corn, wheat, and rice), relative to requirements for humans.

f  Abundant in meat, but nearly absent from plants.

Global animal agriculture including aquaculture

Animal agriculture is a driving force of human civilization, and accounts for 50%–75% of the total amount of agricultural output in industrialized nations or 25%–40% in developing countries.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, ²⁷ the global numbers of livestock and poultry have increased over the past decades, with 1.5   ×   10⁹ cattle, 2.2   ×   10⁹ sheep plus goats, 1.0   ×   10⁹ swine, and 24   ×   10⁹ poultry in 2018. China and the U.S. have the largest and second largest numbers of domestic animals, respectively. Both extensive and intensive systems are currently used to raise ruminants (e.g., cattle, sheep and goats) and nonruminants (e.g., swine and poultry) worldwide. In ruminant production, grazing (an extensive low-cost system) utilizes 26% of the earth's ice-free terrestrial surface. ⁴ The plants consumed by ruminants grow in fields that can be fertilized by animal waste (e.g., feces and urine). Such grassland-ruminant operations provide a beneficial recycling of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur in the ecosystem. In modern farming, ruminants and nonruminants are also raised at a high stocking density (an intensive system) to increase competitiveness of production by generating the highest output at the lowest cost through efficient use of labor, space, economies of scale, and automated machinery. ²⁸ Particularly, modern dairy, pork and poultry production involves enclosed buildings to protect animals from inclement weather, wild predators, and wide-spread of infectious diseases. Intensive animal production requires appropriate nutritional and engineering measures to optimize animal health and welfare and to minimize environmental impacts.

Besides the land-based production of animal protein, aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role in agricultural enterprises worldwide. For example, global fish production by aquaculture increased by 31% from 66.4   ×   10⁹   kg in 2012 to 87.0   ×   10⁹   kg in 2018. ²⁹ Fish is a popular food to provide high-quality protein and other nutrients for improving human growth and health. Of particular note, between 2001 and 2016, fish consumption per capita in developed countries increased by 25%, from 16 to 20   kg, accounting for 17% of total intake of animal protein. ²⁹ A great impediment to the productivity of fish culture is the provision of adequate nutrients, particularly amino acids, which are the most predominant components of diets and the building blocks of tissue protein (the major dry-matter component of animal growth). ³⁰ Because fish can convert low-quality plant protein into high-quality animal protein, research on dietary requirements for amino acids is expected to help sustain and grow the global aquaculture industry, while reducing its dependency on threatened ocean fisheries. Feeding fish to fish is not sustainable for aquacultural enterprises.

Potential impacts of animal agriculture on human food supply and the ecosystem

Potential competition with humans for food and water

In the intensive production systems, ruminants and nonruminants are fed diets containing some staple grains (e.g., corn, wheat, and soybean) that are also foods for humans. ⁵ Thus, there is a perception that animals compete with humans for food. However, ruminants have the ability to extensively convert: (a) cellulose (the major structural component of plant cell walls) into nutritionally significant short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) in the rumen; and (b) ammonia, sulfur and carbohydrates into microbial protein. For this reason, farm animals can consume primarily forages and by-products of plants (e.g., pasture grasses, alfalfa, clovers, hays, straw, and silages). Additionally, diets for both ruminants and nonruminants can include by-products of grains [e.g., wheat middlings, wheat bran, citrus pulp, almond hulls, dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) from biofuels industry, and soybean hulls] as sources of energy, protein, and fiber. ⁵ These feed ingredients are inedible for humans and would otherwise be wasted. Results of extensive studies have consistently shown that inclusion of such feedstuffs (e.g., up to 20% DDGS) and synthetic amino acids (e.g., lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan) in ruminant and nonruminant diets can substantially reduce the use of staple grains without compromising the production performance of animals. Importantly, livestock, poultry and fish convert low-quality feedstuffs into high-quality foods (e.g., meat, milk, and eggs) for human consumption, as noted previously. This is a distinct advantage of animal agriculture and aquaculture.

Increased intake of nutrient-dense animal products by humans can reduce the consumption of staple grains. For example, in China where the animal industry has developed very rapidly over the past two decades, consumption of animal products per capita increased by 30.5   kg in 2010 and consumption of food grains per capita decreased by 85   kg, as compared to 1990. ²⁸ Thus, an increase in human consumption of animal products by 1   kg/year resulted in a decrease of 2.8   kg/year in human consumption of food grains. This can be translated into a reduction of annual water use for the production of food-grain crops in the primary cases of swine (Table 1.3), ruminant and poultry (Table 1.4) operations. Thus, well-planned expansion of animal agriculture may be a solution to alleviating the scarcity of water resources, while ensuring an adequate supply of high-quality food protein to humans. Indeed, in regions with a limited availability of groundwater (i.e., Israel), ruminant (e.g., dairy cows and sheep) production is vital to ensure adequate provision of food protein to the population and for export. ³¹

Potential impacts of animal production on the environment

Under normal feeding conditions, the rumen and large intestine of ruminants produce large amounts of CH4 and CO2 from the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids in ingested feedstuffs, as well as ammonia and H2S from the degradation of methionine and cysteine in diets. ⁵ Gas production also occurs in the intestine (primarily the large intestine) of other animals. In all farm animals, when the dietary supply of amino acids is greater than their utilization for the synthesis of proteins and other bioactive molecules, the excessive amino acids undergo irreversible catabolism to form significant quantities of CO2, ammonia plus urea, and H2S plus sulfate via tissue-specific pathways. ⁷ These reactions also occur in response to food deprivation and other catabolic conditions (including disease and heat stress). The nitrogenous substances (e.g., ammonia, urea, nitrite, and nitrate) excreted from animals can be fermented by soil bacteria to yield nitrous oxide. ²⁸ All of the animal-derived metabolic wastes may potentially contribute to soil erosion, environmental pollution (e.g., underground water contamination), greenhouse gas emissions, and global warming, if proper management methods are not implemented. Thus, as noted previously, although modern production systems allow farmers to improve the efficiency of animal production, intensive livestock feeding operations may generate relatively large amounts of manure in small concentrated areas, thereby potentially resulting in substantial challenges to the environment.

Table 1.3

The signs and + denote a decrease and an increase, respectively.

a  Taken from Wu et al. (2014). ²⁸ Values are expressed per capita.

b  Milk plus dairy products.

c  The amount of water needed for the production of aquatic animals (0.34   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) was adopted from the values reported for the production of tilapia (0.34   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) and channel catfish (0.33   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) in fed-pond systems.

d  To calculate the amount of water needed for crop production, wheat flour and milled rice were converted into whole wheat grain and un-milled rice grain, respectively. Generally, 1   kg whole wheat grain and 1   kg un-milled rice grain are equivalent to 0.85   kg wheat flour and 0.70   kg milled rice, respectively.

e  Primarily potatoes and sweet potatoes.

f  Grain-equivalent values reported for potatoes (classified as tubers). Five kilograms of fresh tubers were equivalent to one kilogram of grain.

g  For calculation of the amount of water needed for the production of tubers (0.16   ×   10³/kg food grain), the grain-equivalent values were multiplied first by a factor of 5 (to obtain their fresh weights) and then by 0.16.

Table 1.4

The signs and + denote a decrease and an increase, respectively.

a  The proportions of animal-source foods (73.5% milk plus dairy products, 8.53% poultry meat, 6.82% beef meat, 5.33% pork meat, 0.042% sheep meat, 0.042% goat meat, 3.82% poultry eggs, and 1.90% aquatic products) in human diets were based on the USDA data for the U.S. population in 2010. The human consumptions of poultry and beef meats per capita in the U.S. are 70.9 and 56.7 lb/year, respectively, in 2010.

b  Milk plus dairy products.

c  The amount of water needed for the production of aquatic animals (0.34   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) was adopted from the values reported for the production of tilapia (0.34   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) and channel catfish (0.33   ×   10³   L/kg fresh weight) in fed-pond systems.

d  The proportions of grains (43.5% wheat flour, 36.5% potato, 10.7% corn, 7.0% milled rice, 2.3% beans, and 0.0% sorghum) in human diets were based on the USDA data for the U.S. population in 2010. The human consumption of wheat flour per capita in the U.S. is 134.7   lb/year in 2010.

e  To calculate the amount of water needed for crop production, wheat flour and milled rice were converted into whole-wheat grain and un-milled rice grain, respectively. Generally, 1   kg whole-wheat grain and 1   kg un-milled rice grain are equivalent to 0.85   kg wheat flour and 0.70   kg milled rice, respectively.

f  Primarily white potatoes.

Taken from Wu G, Bazer FW, Cross HR. Land-based production of animal protein: impacts, efficiency, and sustainability. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2014;1328:18-28. Values are expressed per capita.

The FAO of the United Nations cited in 2013 a value of 14.5% for the contribution of global livestock production to greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, and nitrous oxide) worldwide. ³² Such an estimate is substantially lower in developed countries where advanced technologies are adopted for livestock and poultry production. For example, in 2012, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that meat-producing animal agriculture (i.e., beef, swine, sheep, goats, and poultry) systems contributed only 2.1% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. ³³ An analysis by the U.S. EPA further indicated that, among farm animals, the relative contribution from swine production to the overall national greenhouse gas inventory is extremely small (approximately 0.35%). ³⁴ Atmospheric air pollution results primarily from transportation (automobiles), chemical industry, coal use, and burning of biomass, rather than animal agriculture. ³⁵ Similarly, low air quality in certain urban regions (e.g., Houston in the 1970s, Los Angeles in the 1960s, and London in the 1950s) with no animal production facilities was caused mainly by the chemical industry and automobiles. ³⁶ In both developed and developing countries, livestock and poultry production systems are operated in rural areas, but these regions have the desired blue sky and high-quality air. ³⁶ Thus, it is unlikely that animal agriculture has a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and global warming, when compared with the chemical industry and automobiles.

Pasture-based and low-input systems for livestock production were perceived to have minimal environmental impacts. However, results of recent studies indicate that, in comparison with the traditional low-input systems, modern beef and dairy operations are more efficient and require fewer resources to produce the same amount of meat and milk, therefore using less land and generating a smaller carbon footprint per unit of meat or milk produced. ²⁸ For example, in the U.S., modern beef production (based on data in 2007) requires considerably fewer resources and generates less manure, CH4, nitrous oxide, and carbon foot print than the equivalent system in 1977 (Table 1.5). ³⁷ Additionally, available data show that, in the U.S., the number of cows, the amount of feedstuffs, the volume of water, and the surface of land required to produce one billion kg of milk in 2007, as well as the outputs of the manure, CH4, nitrous oxide, and carbon footprint per the same amount of milk yield, were much lower than those in the 1940s (Table 1.5). ³⁸ Furthermore, per 1000 pullets or 1000   kg of eggs produced in the U.S., the generation of greenhouse gas emissions and the demand for cumulative energy were substantially lower in 2010, when compared with 1960 (Table 1.5). ³⁹,⁴⁰ Similar results of improved efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, and reduced land use in 2009 versus 1959 have been reported for U.S. pork production operations (Table 1.6). ⁴¹,⁴² Thus, today, five pigs produce the same amount of pork that required eight pigs in 1959, with 35% and 78% decreases in carbon footprint and the amount of land required per 1000 pounds of dressed carcass produced, respectively. ⁴²

Table 1.5

The sign (–) denotes a decrease.

a  Calculated for the production of 1 billion kg of beef (Capper, 2011) ³⁷ .

b  Calculated for the production of 1 billion kg of milk by lactating cows (Capper et al. 2009) ³⁸ .

c  Calculated for the production of 1000 pullets (Pelletier et al. 2010) ³⁹,⁴⁰ .

d  Calculated for the production of 1000   kg of eggs (Pelletier et al. 2010) ³⁹,⁴⁰ .

Major challenges to the sustainability of animal agriculture and potential solutions

Suboptimal efficiency of protein production by animals

A major goal of animal nutrition is to fully realize the genetic potential of livestock, poultry and fish for reproduction, growth (including accretion of protein in skeletal muscle), and resistance to disease, while preventing the excessive accumulation of white adipose tissue. ⁴³ Biological efficiency of animal production, which refers to the effectiveness in use of feed to produce tissues (e.g., skeletal muscle), milk, or eggs in agricultural operations, is a major determinant of economic efficiency to minimize costs for livestock, poultry and fish production. ²⁸ Natural resources for growing feedstuffs and pasture plants are becoming increasingly limited. Because of physiological and biochemical constraints, the digestion of feeds and the conversion of dietary proteins to tissue proteins in animals remain suboptimal (Table 1.7). ²⁸,⁴⁴ Although bacteria in the rumen have a high capacity for converting nonprotein nitrogen into amino acids, this process generates a large amount of ammonia, and its use for the microbial synthesis of amino acids and protein occurs at suboptimal rates. ⁷ Thus, microbial fermentation of dietary nutrients in the rumen of ruminants (e.g., cows, goats, buffalo, and sheep) is an inefficient process. Digestibility of dietary protein in post-weaning non-ruminants (e.g., pigs and chickens) is at best 75–92%, depending on ingredients. ⁵ In addition, the irreversible catabolism of amino acids generates CO2, ammonia, H2S, CH4, urea and uric acid, further resulting in suboptimal efficiency of animal production and potentially adverse effects on the environment. Overall, the efficiency of utilizing dietary protein to produce whole-body protein during the typical production phase is less than 40% for nonruminants and less than 25% for ruminants. ²⁸ Thus, we are facing enormous challenges to sustain the production of high-quality protein by farm animals, as feedstuff resources are becoming increasingly limited. This problem is further exacerbated by the high rates of embryonic and neonatal mortality in livestock species, particularly swine and cattle. ⁴⁵,⁴⁶

Table 1.6

a  Adapted from Boyd and Cady (2012). ⁴¹ Dressed carcass is defined as the carcass of the pig after its head, viscera, hair, and tail are removed at slaughter.

Table 1.7

a  Adapted from Wilkinson (2011). ⁴⁴ and Wu et al. (2014). ²⁸ In addition to species differences, the efficiency of protein synthesis from dietary amino acids in skeletal muscle and other tissues decreases with increasing age. For example, approximately 70%, 55%, 50%, and 45% of dietary protein is converted into tissue protein in 14-day-old sow-reared pigs, 30-day-old pigs (weaned at 21 days of age to a corn- and soybean meal-based diet), 110-day-old pigs, and 180-day-old pigs, respectively. Similarly, approximately 52%, 48%, 45%, and 41% of dietary protein is converted into tissue protein in 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-week-old broiler chickens fed corn- and soybean meal-based diets, respectively.

b  Calculated as edible protein in product (e.g., tissue, eggs, or milk)   ÷   protein intake from diet x 100%. Protein is expressed as crude protein. Crude protein content (g/100   g fresh weight) in cow's milk, beef meat, pig meat, poultry meat, and eggs is 3.3, 19.7, 20.5, 19.1, and 12.7, respectively. The ratio of live body weight to edible meat (kg/kg) is 515:288 for grazing beef cattle, 540:302 for cereal beef cattle, 109:78.1 for pigs, and 2.54:2.0 for poultry. A laying hen produces 17.7   kg edible eggs (295   eggs x 60   g/egg) in 55 weeks. In edible meat and eggs, the weight of bone and shell is deducted from the total weight of carcass and egg, respectively.

c  Note: The value reported by Wilkinson (2011) ⁴⁴ for the efficiency of edible protein gain in growing pigs is much lower than the actual value for protein deposition in the whole body of pigs between weaning (21   days of age) and marketing (180   days of age) under typical feeding (e.g., corn- and soybean meal-based diets) and management conditions.

Nutritional means can be developed to enhance the efficiency of animal growth and production. For example, optimal diets should be formulated to provide adequate proportions and amounts of all amino acids, as well as carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and minerals for animals in a species-dependent manner at the various stages of their life cycle. ⁵ Successful practical examples include the following. First, the long-standing ideal protein concept, which ignored nutritionally nonessential amino acids in the diet, has been modified to include these amino acids in ration formulation. ⁴⁷ Second, dietary supplementation with arginine (e.g., 0.4% or 1%) can increase litter size by one or two in gestating gilts or sows, ⁴⁸ and dietary supplementation with glutamine (e.g., 0.2% or 1%) prevents intestinal dysfunction in weanling piglets. ⁴⁹ Third, dietary supplementation with ω6 polyunsaturated fatty acids enhances reproductive performance in cattle. ⁵⁰ Fourth, dietary supplementation with feed enzymes (e.g., phytase, β-glucanase, arabinose, xylanase and β-mannanase) increase the bioavailabilities of dietary minerals, carbohydrates and proteins for swine and poultry. ⁵¹,⁵² Fifth, reducing dietary intake of protein, concurrently with supplementation with crystalline amino acids or α-ketoglutarate decreases the excretion of nitrogen without affecting whole-body lean tissue growth in non-ruminants. ⁵³,⁵⁴ Improvements in farm animal productivity will not only reduce the contamination of soils, groundwater, and air by excessive excretion of animal wastes, but will also help sustain animal agriculture to produce high-quality proteins for the growing global population in the face of declining resources worldwide.

Animal breeding and transgenic animals should also play an important role in increasing the utilization of dietary nutrients for protein deposition in skeletal muscle. For example, disruption of the myostatin gene (a negative regulator of myogenesis) creates pigs that exhibit a double-muscled phenotype, greater body weight, greater longissimus muscle mass, and a 100% increase in the number of muscle fibers than wild-type pigs. ⁵⁵ Second, insertion of a functional uncoupling protein 1 (UCP-1) into pigs (naturally lacking this protein) results in an improved ability to maintain body temperature in response to a cold environment, decreased white fat mass, and increased lean carcass yield. ⁵⁶ Finally, introducing a plant gene for Δ¹² fatty acid desaturase or a C. elegans gene for fatty acid desaturase into the white adipose tissue of pigs allows the animals to synthesize ω6 and ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, so that the use of plant-source oils (e.g., soybean oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil) and fish oil in diets can be reduced or possibly eliminated to decrease swine production costs. ⁵⁷,⁵⁸ Thus, recent biotechnologies can aid in sustaining animal agriculture.

Banning of the use of antibiotics for growth enhancement

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals. Since the 1950s, sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics have been included in conventional diets to improve the growth performance of swine and poultry. ⁵⁹ However, due to the development and spread of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, feed antibiotics have been banned in many countries (e.g., the European union) and are being phased out in some major swine- and poultry- producing nations (e.g., the U.S. and China). Some bacteria are resistant to one class of antibiotics, and others are resistant to multiple antibiotics, thereby posing a serious global health concern. ⁶⁰ For ensuring the optimal efficacy of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections in animals and humans, there is increasing concern worldwide over antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which can be defined as the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antimicrobial substance.

The antimicrobial resistance genes in bacteria can be inherited from mother to daughter cells, as well as from one strain to another via plasmid transfer. ⁶⁰ Interestingly, the plasmids (small DNA molecules which are independent from chromosomal DNA) in bacteria often carry information that may benefit their own survival through resistance to antibiotics produced by themselves or by other organisms in their environment. ⁶¹ When a troublesome antibiotic is not used for a prolonged period of time, resistance levels in bacteria decrease, but can increase again when the antibiotic is used again. ⁶² Antibiotic use in animals can have direct and indirect effects on human health due to: (a) the presence of antibiotic residues in animal products (e.g., meat and milk) consumed by humans; (b) human contact with antibiotic-resistant bacteria from food animals; and (c) the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to various components of the ecosystem (e.g., water and soil). Thus, there is an urgent need to identify new alternatives to feed antibiotics in livestock and poultry production worldwide. This can be greatly facilitated by the use of biotechnology to understand how antimicrobial resistance occurs.

Over the past two decades, much effort has been directed toward developing alternatives to feed antibiotics in animal nutrition. Improvements in intestinal health and immunity should serve as guiding principles for the development of alternatives to feed antibiotics. The most widely researched alternatives are probiotics, prebiotics, acidifiers (e.g., formate, propionic acid, butyric acid, fumaric acid, citric acid, and benzoic acid), lipids [e.g., lauric acid, 1-monoglyceride, tributyrate), medium chain fatty acids (e.g., octanoic acid, C8:0 and caproic acid, C6:0), and conjugated fatty acids], essential oils (aromatic oily liquids obtained from plant material), plant extracts, and antimicrobial peptides ⁵⁹,⁶³ Other alternatives to antibiotics include minerals [e.g., 250   ppm copper sulfate (CuSo4) and 2500   ppm zinc oxide (ZnO)], clay minerals, rare earth elements (e.g., lanthanum-yeast mixture), egg yolk antibodies (e.g., IgY), recombinant enzymes (e.g., feed enzymes), spray-dried porcine plasma, yeast culture, bacteriophages, lysozymes, bovine colostrum, lactoferrin, chito-oligosaccarides, seaweed extracts, and functional amino acids. ⁵⁹,⁶³,⁶⁴ Finally, as for some peptides synthesized by the intestinal mucosa, certain protein hydrolysates from animal sources contain antimicrobial peptides, which exert their actions by damaging the cell membrane of bacteria, interfering with the functions of their intracellular proteins, inducing the aggregation of cytoplasmic proteins, and affecting the metabolism of bacteria. ⁶⁵

Metabolic disorders and infectious diseases

Metabolic disorders and infectious diseases can not only cause the death of animals, but also reduce conception rates, fetal growth, postnatal growth, and feed efficiency in surviving animals. Metabolic disorders result from a deficiency or excess of nutrients, environmental pollution, exposure to toxic metals or other toxins, and possibly genetic defects. ⁵ When nonruminants are fed a low-protein diet due to an insufficient supply of soybean meal without amino acid supplementation, they are at high risk for malnutrition and infectious disease. While it is commonly thought that farm animals do not currently suffer from a deficiency of vitamins because of the commercial availabilities of their premixes, this is not so, particularly when feeds are stored in a hot environment for a prolonged period of time. Similarly, dietary intakes of macro- or micro-minerals may be inadequate due to the presence of anti-nutritive factors in feedstuff ingredients. Individual minerals and vitamins can be either deficient or excessive due to human errors in ration formulations. Furthermore, on practical farms, animals may be constantly challenged by bacteria, viruses, parasites and other pathogens to become ill, such that a large amount of energy and amino acids are used to maintain life. ⁶⁶ Thus, effective prevention and treatment of diseases, particularly infectious diseases (e.g., foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, and avian influenza), is essential for successful livestock, poultry and fish production.

There are many successful examples of prevention and treatment of nutritional diseases through dietary interventions. ⁵ For example, dietary supplementation with arginine ameliorates ascite-pulmonary hypertension in poultry. ⁶⁷ In addition, dietary supplementation with a mixture of antioxidants (e.g., vitamins E, C, bioflavonoids, and selenium) prevents porcine stress syndrome. ⁶⁸ Furthermore, dietary supplementation with phosphorus prevents infertility in cattle grazing on the phosphorus-deficient soil. ⁶⁹ Finally, enteral or intravenous administration of molybdenum can treat the toxicity of excessive dietary copper in sheep. ⁷⁰ Prevention of disease will reduce the metabolic cost of animal production, leading to an increase in the efficiency of feed utilization and a decrease in the excretion of wastes.

Besides dietary interventions, animal biotechnologies can help prevent infectious diseases in livestock species. For example, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-associated nuclease-9 (CRISPR/Cas9) gene targeting and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technologies have been used to create pigs without the CD163 gene. ⁷¹ This gene encodes a cellular receptor for the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV, also referred to as blue ear disease). ⁷¹ Thus, pigs with the CD163 knock-out are fully resistant to the PRRSV. ⁷² Also, males and females can be used as breeding stocks to produce generations of PRRSV-resistant offspring. Finally, recombinant DNA technology has been used to produce vaccines against bacterial and viral diseases (e.g., African swine fever virus) by Escherichia coli. ⁷³ Thus, biotechnology holds promise for sustaining and enhancing global animal agriculture.

Global warming and cold environment

Global surface temperature has increased gradually over the past 50   years. Heat stress reduces feed intake and production of animals, while impairing their immune function and inducing a catabolic state. ⁷⁴ For example, increasing environmental temperatures from 23 to 33   °C markedly reduces feed intake, growth performance, and the efficiency of nutrient utilization in swine ⁷⁵ and poultry. ⁷⁶ Consequently, a climate change toward global warming is expected to negatively impact animal production worldwide. ⁷⁷ For example, on a hot day, almost all fish raised in ponds may die, resulting in a huge economic loss. Conversely, in a cold environment, animals (e.g., cattle and swine) have elevated levels of thyroid hormones that stimulate basal energy metabolism and whole-body protein degradation, thereby leading to the loss of muscle protein or even death. ⁵ Extreme temperatures increase risk for both metabolic disorders and infectious diseases in animals, further compromising their production. Generating new breeds of animals to better adapt to a hot or cold climate is crucial for the future success of animal agriculture.

Methods to mitigate heat stress include physical cooling systems (e.g., sprinklers and water baths), and reductions in dietary levels of protein coupled with dietary supplementation with some amino acids (lysine, tryptophan and threonine) or saturated fat. ⁵ These methods are partially effective because they can enhance heat dissipation, decrease whole-body heat production (primarily via reduced whole-body protein metabolism), and attenuate the thermal effect of feeding, but they have the disadvantages of high costs, inadequate provision of most amino acids, and risk for an excess deposition of subcutaneous fat. Thus, novel means for optimal mitigation of production problems brought about by climate change are needed. One effective method is dietary supplementation with Yucca schidigera extract (Yucca; BIOPOWDER), which contains steroidal saponins. ⁵ These phytochemicals are natural structural analogues of glucocorticoids (e.g., corticosterone and cortisol) and antagonize the negative effects of the stress hormones on inducing protein degradation in skeletal muscle and amino acid catabolism

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