The processes involved in producing palatable and nutritious food for people from livestock and poultry are numerous, complex, and interactive. Traditional experimentation has resulted in a tremendous quantity of detailed, but relatively fragmented, information about these processes. Integrating this information to develop best practices for application in managing agricultural production systems is a daunting task. When approached in an ad hoc manner, this integration will very possibly be flawed and the resulting management practices far from optimal. Further, experimental evaluation of the proposed practices is hampered by the fact that commitment of resource to the management strategy itself constitutes an experimental unit and sufficient replication for testing hypotheses is difficult to obtain. In attempting to overcome these problems, mathematical models have been developed and used to guide management of agricultural production systems.

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