CORDIS - EU research results

Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - OK-Net EcoFeed (Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2021-03-31

A key objective of organic farming is that animals are fed with feed produced on the farm or neighbouring regions. However, this is still a challenge for many farmers in Europe. Indeed, feed and livestock production, particularly pigs and poultry, are often concentrated in different regions meaning that imported animal feed must be transported long distances to reach the farm. This problem is even more challenging for protein feed, as the organic protein availability can be low or sometimes not available at all. Importing animal feed has economical disadvantages for farmers and can compromise the values of sustainability, animal welfare and decrease consumers’ confidence.
The OK-Net Ecofeed project supported on-farm feed autonomy and was committed to help producers achieve 100% organic rations for monogastric animals. The work carried out aimed at tackling the organic feed objectives for the coming years, including reducing the cost of feed production, improving sustainability and animal welfare, and satisfying consumer expectation for traceability of production.

Within this context, the overall aim of OK-Net EcoFeed is to help farmers, breeders and the organic feed processing industry in achieving the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed for monogastrics, in particular pigs, broilers, laying hens.
The 4 specific objectives are:
• The project synthesized the scientific and practical knowledge available about organic and regional feed production for monogastrics;
• It created a European network of innovation groups and facilitated exchange and co-creation of knowledge among farmers, business actors, researchers and advisors;
• It collected end-user material and developed new tools adapted to the needs of farmers and business actors. All material and tools were summarised in the EIP common format for practice abstracts.
• Finally, the project extended the platform Organic Farm Knowledge ( to include the topic of monogastric animal feed.
The project built on the experiences of OK-Net Arable, which was a thematic network addressing organic arable cropping. OK-Net EcoFeed was a logic continuation of OK-Net Arable, making the bridge between feed cultivation over feed processing to animal production. The OK-Net EcoFeed consortium was coordinated by IFOAM Organics Europe and consisted of 11 partners and 8 linked third parties from 11 countries.
A network of 12 Innovation Groups (IG) in 8 countries was established. The groups, which include farmers and other industry partners, have had five official group meetings with invited researchers, where relevant potential solutions and results from the testing activities have been discussed.
Literature on how to feed monogastrics with 100% organic and regionally produced feed was collected in a database, while the 12 Innovation Groups identified knowledge gaps. These knowledge gaps were matched against the literature available in the database, and additional expertise from research. This exercise led to the knowledge synthesis on feeding organic monogastrics, 1 scientific review paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Sustainability in February 2021 and a report on research needs and barriers to innovation and recommendations for a better-targeted research and innovation agenda. This report and the scientific review paper can be used as a basis for further research towards more sustainable feeding and disseminate results, best practices to towards scientific community.
A total of 18 IG trials took place across eight of the participating countries. Each of the testing activities were translated into easy-to-use dissemination materials such as practice abstracts (PAs) according to the EIP-AGRI common format and short videos in the local language with English subtitles. Of the 18 IG tools tested, 50% have been taken up by participating practitioners including changes in practice on-farm and the adoption of new technology. Of each tested tool, PAs and videos were produced for the implementation of tools, end-user material and solutions developed. Disseminate towards organic farmers. 31 factsheets and 5 videos were created by the OK-Net EcoFeed partners based on existing knowledge and 16 tools were translated to 1 or more languages.

Two ration planning tools, one for pigs and one for poultry, were developed to help farmers to calculate their own feed on farm and improve local feedstuffs in organic feeds for monogastric.
The OFK, online since 2018, is a new version of the OK-Net platform built by OK-Net Arable. The platform now allows to upload end-user material from other thematic networks and multi-actor projects and to cover all practical information relevant to organic farming. The toolbox of the OFK was further extended with 139 OK-Net EcoFeed tools and descriptions. These includes 117 PA and 22 videos covering pigs, broilers, layers, feeding and ration planning used for online dissemination knowledge exchange. Practice abstracts were provided to the EIP-AGRI website using the EIP Common Format for Practice Abstracts.
Project outcomes were summarised for practitioners and actors in the feed industry, advisors, innovation brokers and scientists. Research needs and barriers to innovation were identified and recommendations for a better targeted and shared research and innovation agenda were proposed.
Members of the IGs carried out 18 practical testing and produced materials including PAs according to the EIP-AGRI common format and at least one short video in the local language with English subtitles. Furthermore, there was an increased farmer knowledge and scientific research results interaction, and exchanges of farmer experience allowing farmers the information to be shared between groups from difference countries.
Several solutions either from existing knowledge or developed during the project were collected and adapted to the needs of farmers, feed processors and breeders. These solutions are available as easy-to-read end-user materials and translated into all relevant languages identified. Ration planning tools developed for pigs and poultrywill enable farmers to calculate their own feed rations for pigs, broilers and laying hens, independent from the feeding industry.
The "Organic Farm Knowledge" platform will facilitate exchanges among farmers, farm advisers and scientist and make practical organic solutions available to farmers.
A plan for the continuation of the Organic Farm Knowledge platform has been developed including suggestions on how the platform can serve other projects and how it can be used by national farmers’ organisations.