Livestock Feeds

Animals have been part of the human food chain since Neanderthals hunted them about 50,000 b.c. (1). Today, in those countries with a high standard of living, foods from animals (eg, meat, milk, and eggs) provide about 25 to 30% of the total caloric intake, whereas in developing countries it is a much lower proportion. High-quality protein is the primary nutrient supplied by animal products. In countries with adequate diets, half or more of the total protein intake comes from animal products, whereas in countries with inadequate diets, animal protein intake is 6 to 35% of the total protein intake. Protein in animal foods is high quality; the essential amino acids are present in high and well-balanced quantities. Thus, the consumption of animal foods supplements and complements the lower-quality protein found in many plant foods (eg, grains, vegetables, and fruits). A deficiency of animal protein in small children results in the disease kwashiorkor, a well-known problem in developing countries. Table 1 shows the edible protein consumed from different animal products on a worldwide basis (2).

Animal products are rich sources of required minerals (especially calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc) and vitamins (especially vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12) as shown in Table 2 (3). Because animal products contain protein, minerals, and vitamins in higher amounts relative to their caloric content in comparison to human dietary requirements, their consumption facilitates a balanced diet (4).

The efficiency with which animals convert feed resources into human food varies depending on the type of

Table 1. Edible Protein from Animal Sources Consumed Annually by the World Population

Protein,

Source X1000 metric tons

Table 1. Edible Protein from Animal Sources Consumed Annually by the World Population

Protein,

Source X1000 metric tons

Milk and milk products

18,550

Eggs

2,849

Meat

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