Using Amino Acids to Improve Livestock Nutrition and Reduce Environmental Impact
Meat in our diets provides an important source of protein, minerals and other nutrients for the body. Amino acids have been used for animal nutrition for roughly half a century. Much of the chicken and pork that is eaten around the world today is raised using amino acid-containing feed that promotes healthy and efficient growth.
Do you enjoy eating meat? Although high quality, animal-based proteins from meat are essential to our diets livestock excrete excessive nitrogen compounds that pollute the environment.
Pigs are raised on feeds that mainly consist of grains such as corn and wheat mixed with plant-based proteins such as soy meal. Roughly one-third of the proteins in these feeds are digested and absorbed by pigs but the remaining two-thirds of the proteins are excreted as nitrogen compounds. Nitrogen compounds generate ammonia that pollutes the air, leaches into soil and pollutes water in rivers and lakes.
Pigs excrete excessive nitrogen compounds because of the poor balance of amino acids in their feeds. This prevents their bodies from effectively using the proteins they eat so that excess amino acids are excreted as nitrogen compounds.
Kyushu Agricultural Experiment Station News, No. 79 (2000)
Unfortified feeds lack certain amino acids including lysine, threonine and tryptophan. By fortifying feeds with these amino acids animals can more effectively use the proteins they eat and excrete less excess amino acids as nitrogen compounds. The total nitrogen excretion can be reduced by about 30% and the one for ammonia by 50%. This reduces the burden for soil and water quality.
The use of amino acids to fortify livestock feeds reduces the environmental impact of livestock, promotes the efficient use of grains, and helps to increase production of livestock resources. For the sake of the future, it is extremely important to increase the volume of livestock production while limiting its impact on the environment. Such techniques for reducing nitrogen excretion are already used by many countries around the world and amino acids play a key role in promoting environmentally-friendly livestock production.