The feed manufacturer must offer a product that is attractively priced and that meets the needs of the animals according to species, age, physiological stage, outlet, etc. It is now possible to also take into account the origin of the raw materials and the environmental impact of the formulas. This characterisation makes it possible to meet societal demands while maintaining zootechnical performance and avoiding economic waste.
Environmental issues have become increasingly important on the planet. Amongst them, greenhouse gas emissions occupy a predominant place (Paris Agreement 2015 and National Low Carbon Strategy).
Consumers are increasingly aware of these issues and are also looking for environmentally friendly products. In the field of livestock farming, animal nutrition can account for up to 75% of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly in poultry where enteric emissions are low and the rearing period is short. However, the environment is a set of natural elements that act on organisms. Greenhouse gasses are therefore not the only elements to be taken into account.
HOW CAN THE ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE OF FEED FORMULAS BE CHARACTERISED?
Techna has developed its own database for the overall control of the environmental impact of feed formulas.
The objective? To be able to estimate the impact on the air, but also on water, soil and biodiversity. Each raw material already characterised by chemical and nutritional values is now also provided with environmental values. This characterisation is based on six indicators established by Techna’s experts or taken from bibliographic databases to meet all requirements:
• greenhouse gases
• water consumption
• energy consumption
• phosphorus consumption
• TFI (Treatment Frequency Index)
• land use
Greenhouse gasses and energy consumption are recalculated using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. This method takes into account the emissions linked to the cultivation, transport and processing of the raw material.
Doing the calculations in-house allows us to have a more precise knowledge of the most emitting factors. The data used for the calculations, such as fertiliser use, irrigation, etc., are French national averages.
Thanks to its internal calculator, Techna can also customise the environmental values of its customers’ raw materials according to the regions and information available to them (yield, irrigation, growing location, etc.).
WHAT IS AT STAKE FOR FEED FORMULAS?
The feed manufacturer must offer a product that is attractively priced and that meets the needs of the animals according to species, age, physiological stage, outlet, etc. It is now possible to also take into account the origin of the raw materials and the environmental impact of the formulas.
This characterisation makes it possible to meet societal demands while maintaining zootechnical performance and avoiding economic waste. But acting on the environmental impact of the formula still has an impact on the cost.
AN INDEX THAT GROUPS TOGETHER DIFFERENT INDICATORS
To make it easier to read, the environmental criteria have taken the form of an index. This index was constructed by Techna’s experts and takes into account current issues and the main demands of our clients. The different indicators are weighted to give an overall grade for the feedstuffs ranging from A to E.
To keep a global view on the environment, the index is always accompanied by the details of its six indicators.
FEED ADDITIVES CAN PLAY A KEY ROLE TO MANAGE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Techna has worked on developing products that can also help with reducing the environmental impact.
Techna nutritional concepts for monogastric species are evaluated at its research station, where multiple nutritional trials are performed each year. Fine tuning existing concepts routinely leads to a saving in feed cost, with the additional benefit of decreasing the environmental impact.
For example, in swine, various enzyme combinations tried at different concentrations, allow formulators to employ the most optimal strategy in term of matrix values and feed optimisation. This enzyme efficiency leads to energy and nutrient release allowing savings to be made from other raw materials, including using less of those with phosphorus content which is ultimately better for the environment. On the poultry side, Techna uses Aviance, a blend of botanicals, to stimulate the digestive function of the bird and contributes to a well balanced intestinal flora. Aviance, in the diet, has proven to increase the absorption surface area in the gut resulting in an improved feed digestibility and energy efficiency.
In Ruminant Techna develops and markets also a range of botanical products used in feed and diet optimisation. Novatan is a product that reduces protein breakdown in the rumen meaning more protein is bypassed and utilized in the intestines – protein efficiency is improved. Novatan helps with reducing the animals carbon footprint as improving protein efficiency, reduces protein waste and can help in reducing excreted nitrogen (N) per litre of milk. Novatan has validation from The Carbon Trust – “Based on results from laboratory and on farm testing against a valid baseline, Novatan can reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle”.
Elensis is a blend of aromatic substances with a targeted action to improve energy efficiency and digestibility in ruminants. In the rumen it shifts fermentation towards propionate which is the most efficient VFA for energy utilisation. Shifting fermentation towards propionate not only improves energy utilisation but it also helps in reducing methane production. In the hindgut it is effective at improving total starch digestibility. Elensis improves performances whilst participating to reduce the environmental footprint.
We combine Techna’s know-how of nutrition, formulation and additives. We use a matrix value for our products which allows us to use the right quantity of the product to reach our objectives. By doing this, we ensure an optimal use of the raw materials in feed and participate in the management of the environmental impact of livestock.
About Pauline Chaput
Pauline Chaput is a graduate engineer from Unilasalle Rouen. She studied the environmental impact of raw materials in animal nutrition as part of her final project for TECHNA. She then joined the company’s feed formulation team.