By Dr. Robert Swick, NSM poultry nutrition consultant

Every two years, the Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition Conference – Australia (RAAN) is held, and, recently, it continued its tradition of sharing the latest research on economically significant animal species including poultry, pigs, sheep, cattle, companion animals and aquaculture. 

Attended by industry and academia alike, the lively discussion makes it one of the most thought provoking and stimulating symposia globally. The main area of interest was on the health benefits of consuming meat in the human diet and sustainability of feed ingredients.  

Dr. Rob van Barneveld, CEO of Sunpork, Australia’s largest pork operation, discussed consumer perceptions from artificial intelligence queries. Consumers typically have a negative view of the health and cost of meat in their diet but enjoy consuming meat and value its contribution to their diet. A recent article in the British medical journal by Lancet by Murray et al (2020) alarmingly estimated premature death and disability related to meat consumption. From this it is clear that the societal role of meat is being challenged with ideological and over-simplified logic. There is vast published evidence showing meat to be a nutrient-dense source of high quality protein containing essential micronutrients such as amino acids, vitamin B12 and conjugated linoleic acid that can be safely consumed by humans and especially valuable in developing countries.  

As animals consume around 90% of the soybean meal produced, the debate is important to soybean farmers. With the global population expected to increase from 8.1 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050 there is no question that meat consumption will increase. The growing animal population will need to be produced and fed in a sustainable way.  

While at the conference, I presented on my recent research suggesting that soybean meal (SBM) from the U.S. is more sustainable than SBM from other origins. The study analyzed 5 U.S. SBM samples, 10 Argentine and 4 from Brazil for proximate composition, carbohydrate, amino acids, reactive lysine, KOH KOH protein solubility (KOH-PS), trypsin inhibitor activity (TIA), protein dispersibility index (PDI), and standardized ileal digestible (SID) AA coefficients and values in broilers. The results suggest that U.S. had the lowest level of crude protein, but higher values for sucrose and most digestible amino acids than SBM from the other origins. This suggests the higher utilization of nutrients, as well as a lower environmental production footprint make SBM from the U.S. more sustainable for use in poultry feed. Read more about the study on page 38 here. 

 Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest research in the field of animal nutrition across the most economically significant animal species, including poultry, pigs, sheep, cattle, companion animals and aquaculture. Furthermore, RAAN is an ideal place to network with other experts in the field and create and foster personal relationships.