Broccoli

Conservation of artichoke and broccoli coproducts in baled silages

Alvaro Garcia

The artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) consists of a variety of a species of thistles cultivated as a food. The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers bloom. Once the buds bloom, the structure changes into a coarse and barely edible form. Artichokes are cultivated in several parts of the world. In Europe they contribute to the agricultural economy of the Mediterranean region, accounting to nearly 60% of the world production.

Broccoli is an edible green plant of the cabbage family (family Brassicaceae, genus Brassica) with a large edible flowering head. Broccoli is a cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea with large flower heads usually dark green in color, surrounded by leaves and arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick light green stack. It resembles cauliflower which is a different cultivar group of the same Brassica species. It is native to the Mediterranean where more than 40% is produced together with Southeast Asian regions.

Use of artichoke and broccoli coproducts to feed livestock

Once artichoke flower-heads are harvested (20% of the biomass) for human consumption, what’s left in the field are leaves, stems and some inflorescences (80% of the biomass). This byproduct has been used to feed livestock in Europe, Asia, and America.

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Seaweeds

Seaweeds in ruminant nutrition

Alvaro Garcia

It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will reach more than 9 billion people, 34 percent more than nowadays. At the same time, a higher standard of living attained by larger segments of the population, has increased the demand for animal products. To be able to feed this population, food production must increase by 70 percent not only from traditional sources but also by exploring new alternatives.

This will imply an increase on the total biomass fed to animals precisely at a time when climate variability and water shortages challenge its production in several parts of the world. One alternative that is currently being evaluated is the use of marine algae or seaweeds as a source of feed for both livestock and humans.

Its main advantage is the fact of being produced in a self-sustaining environment, without increasing the use of land base, and that does not require incorporation of resources (including freshwater!).

Groups of seaweeds

There are basically three groups of seaweeds: Phaeophyta (brown), Rhodophyta (red) or Chlorophyta (green). They have variable composition both between species, and within a species depending on the stages at which it is harvested as well as the growing conditions. There are very limited studies that report the nutritive value of seaweeds as a feedstuff for cattle.

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Fava beans

Protecting fava beans with different processing technologies

Álvaro García

There is a current trend in consumers preference for dairy products obtained from feeding cattle with locally sourced, non-genetically modified crops that can be traced to their origin. As a result, locally produced vegetable proteins in Europe have been partially replacing imported soybean meal.

Fava beans nutrient composition

Legume plant species such as fava beans, have the same nitrogen-fixating properties as soybeans, and yields bordering 3 tons per hectare. Their nutrient content is quite high at approximately 30% protein and 44% starch.

This protein however is almost 80% fermentable in the rumen making necessary the supplementation of bypass protein particularly in high producing dairy cows. Various processing technologies have been used to increase this undegradable protein (bypass) fraction with the most common being heat treatment.

Protein protection

This treatment is quite effective provided temperature, time, and moisture during treatment are maintained within certain parameters. When this processing exceeds the recommended temperature, for example, heat damage occurs which reducers both protein and sugar availabilities to the animal (Maillard reaction).

Most heat-treated raw seeds do not undergo any previous treatment before extrusion. There could be however some treatments that could make the process more effective without excessively damaging the protein.

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Sprinklers

Cooling cows leads to hormone secretion that increases milk production

Álvaro García

Heat stress in lactating dairy cows leads to physiological responses that affect their well-being and performance. The peculiarity of their digestive system leads to increased heat increment, which further compounds with external environmental warm temperatures.

To cope with this heat overload, cows rely on two main mechanisms. One internal, which is to reduce feed intake and thus heat production, the second external which is to look for cooler spots in the barn or the field. The heat overload affects several aspects of the animal’s physiology, ranging from reductions in productivity, reproductive losses, all the may to increased incidence of digestive upsets.

Dairy farmers in warmer climates tackle this problem with a few different approaches targeting both internal and external sources of heat. One frequent approach (external) is to cool-off cow’s through water sprinklers, forced air through fans or a combination of both. Another approach (internal) is to increase the nutrient density of the diet to account for reduced feed intake. Despite all these efforts there is still always a sensible reduction in intake, which results in a negative energy balance.

A negative energy balance causes hormonal changes such as a reduction in leptin and an increment in ghrelin

This disparity between energy intake and its requirements for production leads to hormonal changes responsible for further drops in intake. One such change is the reduction in leptin and an increase in ghrelin. Leptin synthesized in the adipose tissue has important bearing in eating behavior, energy expenditure, and body weight. It signals the hypothalamus of the adequacy of the energy status in the body, and the need to reduce intake.

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