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Feed-a-Gene: a new European project to adapt feeds, animals and feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of pig, poultry and rabbit production systems.

The European Feed-a-Gene project, coordinated by INRA, aims to reduce the environmental impact of monogastric livestock production (pigs, poultry, rabbits) by improving and diversifying their diets and feed technologies and by integrating new selection criteria for these animals. The project involves 23 partners for a five-year period.

Porcs en plein air. © INRA
Updated on 02/26/2016
Published on 02/12/2015

The global demand for animal products continues to increase, notably because of strong demographic growth and improvements in purchasing power. Pigs and chickens are the principal sources of these products. According to the FAO, there are currently no technically and economically viable alternatives to intensive livestock production that can meet this growing demand for animal products.

The European "Feed-a-Gene" project aims to improve the global efficiency of monogastric livestock farming (i.e. pigs, poultry and rabbits) in order to reduce its environmental impact. The project involves an international consortium of twenty-three public and private sector partners from Europe and China. The project is planned to last for five years, and has been allocated a budget of €9 million.

To meet their objectives, the partners in "Feed-a-Gene" will in particular be working on valorising new feed sources for livestock and developing new feeding technologies that can better exploit the potential of both feeds and animals. The project also includes an important genetic element, which should enable the identification of new markers to select more efficient and robust animals that are better adapted to fluctuating environmental conditions. 

The objectives of the different tasks covered by this project include:

  • Develop new and alternative feeds and feed technologies to make better use of local feed resources, green biomass and by-products of the food and biofuel industry.
  • Develop methods for the real-time characterization of the nutritional value of feeds to better use and adapt diets to animal requirements.
  • Develop new traits of feed efficiency and robustness allowing identification of individual variability to select animals that are more adapted to changes in feed and environmental conditions.
  • Develop biological models of livestock functioning to better understand and predict nutrient and energy utilization of animals along their productive trajectory.
  • Develop new management systems for precision feeding and precision farming combining data and knowledge from the feed, the animal, and the environment using innovative monitoring systems, feeders, and decision support tools.
  • Evaluate the overall sustainability of new management systems developed by the project.
  • Demonstrate the innovative technologies developed by the project in collaboration with partners from the feed industry, breeding companies, equipment manufacturers, and farmers’ organizations to promote the practical implementation of project results.
  • Disseminate new technologies that will increase animal production efficiency, whilst maintaining product quality and animal welfare and enhance EU food security to relevant stakeholders.
Scientific contact(s):

  • Jaap VAN MILGEN (+332 23 48 56 44) Joint Research Unit for the Physiology, Environment and Genetics of Animals and Livestock Systems (UMR PEGASE) Rennes Research Centre
Associated Division(s):
Animal Physiology and Livestock Systems
Associated Centre(s):

Partners in the project

  • INRA (coordinator)
  • DLO (Foundation for Agricultural Research) (Netherlands)
  • Newcastle University (UK))
  • University of Lleida (Spain)
  • IRTA (Institute for Food Research and Technology) (Spain)
  • Kaposvár University (Hungary)
  • Aarhus University (Denmark)
  • Chinese Agricultural University (China)
  • Topigs (Netherlands)
  • Cobb Europe (UK)
  • Hamlet Protein (Denmark)
  • Bühler (Switzerland)
  • DuPont (Denmark)
  • Exafan (Spain)
  • Claitec Solution (Spain)
  • SAT INCO (Spain)
  • Gran Suino Italiano (Italy)
  • ACTA (France)
  • IFIP (France)
  • ITAVI (France)
  • CETIOM (France)
  • Association Française de Zootechnie (France)
  • INRA-Transfert (France)