Sustainability of ruminant agriculture in the new context: feeding strategies and features of animal adaptability into the necessary holistic approach

There are numerous recent studies highlighting sustainability problems for the development of ruminant production systems (RPS) while facing increasing human food necessities and global climate change. Despite the complexity of the context, in our view the main objectives of the ruminants’ physiologist should be convergent for both industrialized (IC) and developing countries (DC) in a common and global strategy of advancing knowledge. In DC, this means improving the efficiency of RPS, taking into account the unique possibility of using rangelands. For IC settings, RPS should be revisited in terms of autonomy and environment- friendly feeding and managing practices. Assuming that competition for feed/food use is still a crucial criterion, future ruminant feeding systems (FeSyst) should preferably focus on lignocellulosic sources.

From a scientific point of view, both for ICs and DCs, a broader range of experimental scenarios should be explored in order to arrive at innovative practices and solutions that respect environmental, ethical and economical issues. The clear challenge is to evaluate the sustainability of RPSs. This includes, in our opinion, a strong interaction with other disciplines (multi- and trans-disciplinary conception), thus structuring new relevant indicators for the evaluation sustainability. This research paper is authored by F. Bocquier and E. González-García.

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