Animal feeds that originate from byproducts of manufacturing human foods are defined as by-product feeds. The sources of by-product feeds include grains, manufactured foods and beverages and refined animal carcasses are all used to create by-product feeds which include but are not limited to beef pulp, oat flour and hominy pellets among others. The revolution in agricultural-industrial technology has been the key driver of the increase in by-product feeds in recent times.
Despite concerns about the safety of by-product feeds for livestock, these feeds are also supposed to be healthy and effective for increased productivity among livestock. The concerns about the health benefits of by-product feeds arise from quarters such as conservatives who consider it to be a deviation from the norm; nutritionists who are concerned about the nutritional value of by-product feeds; medics are also concerned about the safety of the feeds; while other concerns arise due to the quality of these feeds.
Despite the growth in human and livestock populations which places pressure on the world to feed its population, there are concerns about the by-product feeds and their capability to help address this need effectively. The pertinent issues concerning the by-product feeds include the fact that they are ridden with fibers, have lower nutritional value, high chemical content and also harbor chemical precipitates. Moreover, the by-product feeds contain agricultural products which affect animal health if consumed. The chemicals are stored in the flesh of animals and may enter the human system if consumed. By-product feeds are also claimed to cause mad cow disease which can spread to humans who consume the flesh of the affected animals (Lawrence and Erin 5).
Due to the increase in the use of by-product feeds in recent times, a growing trend whereby livestock are kept within animal factories and fed entirely on by-product feeds is being observed. The objective cited for this action is to boost production while also giving the livestock an opportunity for using alternative feeds. Despite the increase in this trend, it is reported that animals reared in natural settings develop to be healthier than those reared in animal factories. The animals reared in natural settings are healthier and have less need for medical attention compared to those reared in animal factories where they are frequently induced with antibiotics to improve their growth.
According to a report by the union of concerned scientists (1) animals reared in animal factories consume huge amounts of antibiotics which may be higher than amounts recommended for humans. This stimulates resistance to antibiotics making it difficult to treat the livestock in case of parasite infestation. Moreover, such animals are also fed almost entirely on grains which are not a suitable type of feed for livestock. Such type of feeds may result in the development of health complications such as liver abscesses and excess acidity.
Based on the information available on by-product feeds, the use of such feeds requires sufficient skill and knowledge, which most farmers do not possess. Increased use of the by-product feeds leads to reduced levels of lactation in animals if not used in combination with effective rationing. Some of them such as fish meal are not palatable. Some, such as rice hulls contain very high levels of silica which are not appropriate for livestock and can cause serious damage, particularly to cows (Waller 19). Although it is not possible to entirely ban the use of by-product feeds for livestock, it is recommended that more research should be done on their comparative benefits against the potential adverse effects.
Lawrence Dyckman and Erin Lansburgh. Mad Cow Disease: Improvements in the Animal Feed Ban and other Regulatory Areas would Strengthen U.S Prevention Efforts, 2003. Print.
Union of Concerned Scientists. Food & Agriculture. 2012. Web. Viewed on 24 Feb 2013 at http://www.ucsusa.org//food-and-agriculture/our-failing-food-system/industrial-agriculture/they-eat-what-the-reality-of.html
Waller, J.C. By-Products and Unusual Feedstuffs. 2003-04 Reference Issue and Buyers Guide. Feedstuffs. Vol. 76, No. 38, pp. 18-22.
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