Cultured meat that's mass produced directly from animal cells could change the world or falter, depending on consumer acceptance. UK researchers warn that positioning cultured meat as a high-tech innovation may be the least effective way to gain consumer support.
Environment and climate crisis: Unlocking phosphorus in soil organic matter
New research from Cornell University may help farmers eventually reduce the amount of artificial fertilizer applied to fields. Their work may explain how iron in the soil can unlock naturally occurring phosphorus bound in organic matter, decreasing reliance on mined phosphorus.
Environment and climate crisis: Global team looks at recycling phosphorus
U.S. researchers are leading an international effort to map the global flow of phosphorus to find ways to recapture and recycle the vital nutrient. Much of the phosphorus is absorbed by crops, then eaten and excreted as waste by animals and people. The team has found there are significant opportunities for recycling phosphorus.
Feed: New plant gene could improve crop yield
U.S. and French researchers discovered a new plant gene - so-called phloem unloading modulator - that helps control the movement of nutrients through plants. The gene could be modified to increase crop yields, offering an environmentally friendly way to boost crop production and reduce fertilizer use.
Poultry: Breeding can reduce feather pecking
Dutch researchers found that laying hen mortality rates from feather pecking can be reduced through breeding. Feather pecking can have a big impact on economics and welfare in commercial poultry operations, and the study looked at the possibility of solving mortality through genetic selection.
Poultry: New data-collecting technology
Sensor technology is offering new ways for the poultry sector to measure, calculate and analyze data. Data-collecting tools from companies like ChickenBoy and Fancom are improving the rate that farmers can detect disease and improve overall health and welfare.
Poultry: Towards a life worth living
Surveys show that approximately 70% of survey respondents in the UK, US and Australia are concerned about animal welfare, and this issue increasingly impacts purchasing decisions. A Food Animal Initiative veterinary consultant recently made the case for phasing out all confinement systems in laying hen production to ensure birds had a life worth living that provides behavioural opportunities as a necessity, not a luxury.
Swine: Gilts from small litters become more productive sows
A North Carolina State researcher says farmers need to select gilts based on factors determined before they are born. Birthweight and the size of litter the gilt is from have a significant impact on their success as sows - and gilts born as part of small litters are much more likely to develop into productive sows.
Swine: Looking at antivirals to help control ASF
With no effective vaccines available for African swine fever (ASF), researchers are looking at developing the first antiviral drug to act against ASF. Antivirals drugs are used in human medicine to treat diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis C - and could provide an effective tool to lower the risk of ASF once pigs have been infected to prevent the spread of the disease.
Swine: Testing the hygienic status of enrichment materials
Pork producers are increasingly using enrichment materials to improve welfare standards and calm abnormal behaviour in pigs. German researchers examined 21 different pig enrichment materials for potential bacterial contamination. Most of the organic material tested would not present a hygiene risk to pigs or people, but mycobacteria levels in peat samples suggest it should not be used as an enrichment material.
Beef: Flawed methane study still attracting attention
A University of California researcher continues to refute a 2006 study entitled Livestock's Long Shadow that erroneously claimed the livestock industry causes 18% of the world's greenhouse gases. The study claimed animals produce more emissions than transportation but was debunked after publication when it was discovered the study took into account the animal's entire life cycle but only considered tailpipe emissions from vehicles.
Beef: Seaweed in demand for livestock feed
Seaweed is one of the most versatile and naturally occurring sources of vitamins and minerals for people and livestock, including a good source of amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Feeding seaweed to cattle increases overall health and growth rates, and preliminary research also shows a small amount of marine algae in cattle feed can reduce methane emissions from cattle gut microbes by up to 99%.
Dairy: Social skills in calves improve cow's lifetime welfare
A U.S. scientist says young dairy calves that live together develop better social skills and may eventually produce more milk as a cow. Dairy cows must adapt to changing environments - moving among social groups, different housing and entering the milking parlor. The better cows are able to cope depends on how they interact socially with other cows. More adaptable cows are less stressed and fearful and should lead to more milk production.
Dairy: Holstein lineage resembles endangered species
The more than nine million dairy cows in the U.S. can be linked back to two bulls and about 50 females, according to work done by researchers at Penn State University. They found more than 99% of males could be traced back to two bulls born in the 1960s - providing just two Y chromosomes for all the male Holsteins in the country. If Holsteins were wild animals, that would amount to critically endangered species status.
Dairy: Microbiome dictates productivity and emissions
An international team of researchers found a core microbiome in the cow's rumen. They tested DNA in 1,000 cattle from several European countries and found some of the microbes play a major role in determining how much methane is produced and how much milk. They are now looking into manipulating the cow rumen biota to see if it's possible to make changes to reduce methane production.
Sheep: Raw soybeans help reduce feed costs
Brazilian researchers found adding raw soybeans to the sheep diet increases milk yield with no detrimental effect on milk production efficiency, milk components and lamb performance. Raw soybeans are usually priced lower than soybean meal and are an important strategy for reducing feed costs.
Aquaculture: Machine learning to improve fish farming
With more fish species farmed in controlled conditions, Dutch researchers are working on methods to select fish automatically, quickly and accurately as more knowledge is needed on breeding conditions, animal health and quality. The use of vision techniques means more variables can be measure in a shorter time, with software being more objective than a human observer.