There are two broad perspectives to discuss animal nutrition; the feeds and the foods. The feeds consist of concentrates, roughages, supplements, and additives. They are the foods given to farm animals for their growth and maintenance.
On the other hand, food nutrients are the chemical elements in the feeds animals eat for their growth and development. These elements, known as principles, include protein, carbohydrates, lipids, fat, mineral, and vitamins. This article will focus on these elements later.
Meeting the nutritional needs of farm animals for maximum production and food processing is key to meeting increasing global demands for food production. With scarce resources, there is an urgent need to increase food production and, at the same time, reduce the impact farm practices have on the environment.
What is Animal Nutrition?
Animal nutrition refers to the nutritional needs of farm animals. It deals with the processes by which the animal assimilates and utilizes food/feeds for growth and performance. It can be regarded as the art or science of feeding animals for healthy growth. A nutrient is a compound found in the food that the animal needs to grow and function properly.
Why is Animal Nutrition Necessary?
The world is connected, and any activity taking place in one place directly or indirectly affects the other. Global warming and climate change have been points of discussion among world leaders. The need to enhance a clean and sustainable environment has necessitated research on animal nutrition.
Utilizing Livestock farming innovations can help protect the natural environment for future generations. Reducing Greenhouse gas emissions is another critical reason to study animal nutrition.
Utilizing a limited space for optimum production, increase in food yields, provision of a balanced diet for animal health, etc., are some benefits of animal nutrition.
The animal’s health, welfare, and productivity are also essential and potential benefits because the healthier the animal, the greater the yields and the better for the livestock farmer.
What are the Principles of Animal Nutrition?
As stated earlier, food nutrients are the chemical compounds in the feeds animals consume for their health and well-being. These compounds can be categorized into six groups: protein, water, mineral, lipids, and carbohydrate. They are the principles of animal nutrition which we shall discuss here.
Protein is an essential chemical compound that animal needs for various purposes. To replace worn-out tissues, build cells, build muscles, used for the formation of hormones and enzymes, and helps in the production of wool, milk, egg, etc.
Soy is an excellent source of protein and fiber in animal nutrition. It contains minerals and vitamins like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc and helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Protein can help to defend the body against diseases by boosting the immune system. It helps to strengthen the bones. Protein sources include soy, nuts, beans, cakes, peas, milk, and fish. They are composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc., which helps to provide food satisfaction.
Global soy use to overcome protein deficiency, else, it can result in poor growth rate, reproduction failures, and in severe cases, can be fatal.
Carbohydrates provide energy to the body for movement and other functions. They contain fats and sugars and provide fiber to the body. They are the essential fuel needed to run the body and are broken down into glucose which helps the body’s cells, tissues, and organs.
Carbs contain fiber, which helps to promote digestion and provides energy to the brain for high performance. Sources include cereals and maize.
They can be classified into sugar, starch, and cellulose. It can be stored as fat in the body. Any deficiency in carbohydrates will lead to general weakness and loss of weight and may cause ill health in the animal.
This is another vital ingredient that animal needs due to its multiple functions. They are small complex organic matters present in various food. They occur in small quantities but play a qualitative role in the body.
The most familiar and popular vitamin is vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous. They help the body to maintain healthy bones and teeth.
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B and C. Vitamin supplements are low in protein and fiber and aid disease resistance and food digestion, among others. Sources of vitamins include fish, liver oil, carrot, fruit, vegetable, grains, milk, dairy foods, etc.
Water is one of the most critical chemical compounds in the animal’s body and is an essential component the animal needs to survive. About 60 percent of the animal body is made of water.
Water plays multifunctional roles in the body. It helps maintain body temperature, is essential for food digestion, helps form enzymes and hormones, dissolves food nutrients, removes wastes, etc.
Because animals need water to survive, water must be free from contaminants and bacteria. Deficiency in water causes dehydration, restlessness, and decreased production, among others.
- Fats and Oil or Lipids
Fats and oil are essential for animal health. They contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They provide the highest energy, build up fats, insulate the body, reduce hunger and fatigue, etc.
Another name for fats and oil is lipids. According to nutritionists, lipids are compounds insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They are one of the essential components of animal nutrition because they provide sufficient energy to the animal.
Fats can be divided into two groups- saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats, often considered bad fats, are usually solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
Saturated fats can be found in animal products such as butter, cheese, ice cream, milk, etc. Unsaturated fats include eggs, olive oil, fruits, nuts, and plant seeds.
Finally, it is essential to state that animal nutrition is necessary for the overall success of livestock production. Obtaining and providing the food needed for the health and wellness of the animal is key to animal nutrition.
Nutrition deficiencies can lead to malnutrition, affect the growth of the animal and ultimately lead to low yields. Livestock production will meet global food needs with innovations from the US government and other multinational farming companies.