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INRA, Cirad, AFZ team up to construct Feedipedia

Three French renowned research organisations have recently teamed up with the UN’s Food ang Agricultural Organization (FAO) to construct a new encyclopaedic website focused on feed production.

The website www.feedipedia.org was launched by INRA, the French national institute for agricultural research, Cirad, an agricultural research centre focusing on development, and the French Association for Animal Production (AFZ).

The website is an open access information system on animal feed resources that provides information on the chemical composition, nutritional value and safe use of livestock feeds available around the world. In particular, it gives livestock farmers in warm regions access to information so they can better use the many local plant species available to them.

In a press release, the organisations explain the ‘why’ of the initiative: “Efficient use of animal feed resources is a high stakes priority for sustainable livestock farming, especially in emerging markets where meat consumption is rapidly increasing. Warm regions boast a wide variety of plants, starchy tubers and fruits, protein-rich plants, grasses and pulses that can all be used in animal feed.

“To make optimal use of these local resources, livestock farmers need precise information about their nutritional value to develop balanced rations. While national feed tables have existed for many years and are regularly updated in temperate countries, tables aimed at tropical and subtropical countries are hard to find. These countries must often rely on data collected in temperate countries or use unreliable, out-of-date sources.”

Detailed information
The encyclopaedia has been online since the end of last year and is continually adding new information. Over the long term, it will provide the characteristics of all feed sources, from the most traditional (wheat, maize, soya) to lesser known sources (snail and frog meal, sheanut, kapok).

When complete, the site will feature more than 600 data sheets that correspond to more than 1,400 feed sources.

Two projects
The website is the result of two projects being combined. The managing organisations began compiling the tables for warm regions in 2009. Later, the data weres put online by the FAO on the Animal Feed Resources Information System (AFRIS) site, now replaced by Feedipedia.

More than 25 scientists and engineers from the French organisations are working on this project. They gather, analyse and compile the data published each year, collected via contacts all over the world. The site also features a bibliography and links to online resources, including 34 feed/plant databases (tropical forage, grassland species, invasive or toxic plants, and more).

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