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Paving the way towards sustainable intensification

Sustainable intensification’ is a widely-used term in agricultural circles at the moment -this means being environmentally-friendly and allowing a reasonable return on investment for producers

Rising costs of energy and feed, combined with low product prices, make this latter element a continual challenge for producers. The pig and broiler chicken industries are key contributors to the European economy, and one of the main ways in which sustainability can be achieved is through improving feed conversion efficiency (FCE). This is the focus of a major new FP7 project “ECO-FCE” which was launched in Belfast in February 2013. ECO-FCE Through a better understanding of the interactions between animal genetics, gut structure and function, the microbial population of the gut and the attributes of feed, the ECO-FCE project aims to contribute to improved feed conversion efficiency and reduced ecological footprint in pig and broiler chicken production. The project is using state-of-the-art ‘omics’ technologies integrated with novel systems biology research to gain a greater understanding of factors underpinning variation in FCE between animals. It will also identify management routes through which FCE can be improved, and nutrient and greenhouse gas emissions reduced. At the same time, the impact of FCE on product quality and on animal health and welfare is being monitored. The project will culminate in the production of industry-ready models and tools to assist stakeholders in understanding, measuring and managing the impact of management decisions on FCE and environmental impact. Stakeholder network A special network has been established which will allow interested parties to become more involved in the project. If you join the network you will receive regular updates on project progress and findings, and will also be able to direct suggestions, comments and ideas to the ECO-FCE experts. Interested parties can register as a stakeholder through the project website (


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