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Multiobjective formulation is an effective method to reduce environmental impacts of livestock feeds

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Florence Garcia-Launay et al., British Journal of Nutrition, 2018, volume 120, n° 11, décembre, 12 pages

Environmental and economic performances of livestock production are related largely to the production of complete feeds provided on commercial farms. Formulating feeds based on environmental and economic criteria appears a suitable approach to address the current challenges of animal production. We developed a multiobjective (MO) method of formulating feed which considers both the cost and environmental impacts (estimated via life cycle assessment) of the feed mix. In the first step, least-cost formulation provides a baseline for feed cost and potential impacts per kg of feed. In the second, the minimised MO function includes normalised values of feed cost and impacts climate change, P demand, non-renewable energy demand and land occupation. An additional factor weights the relative influence of economic and environmental objectives. The potential of the method was evaluated using two scenarios of feed formulation for pig, broiler and young bulls. Compared to baseline feeds, MO-formulated feeds had lower environmental impacts in both scenarios studied (&‡22;2 to &‡22;48 %), except for land occupation of broiler feeds, and a moderately higher cost (1–7 %). The ultimate potential for this method to mitigate environmental impacts is probably lower than this, as animal supply chains may compete for the same low-impact feed ingredients. The method developed complements other strategies, and optimising the entire animal production system should be explored in the future to substantially decrease the associated impacts.