Feed ‘em and weigh ‘em. This has been the simple strategy for many producers for decades, but this won’t work anymore according to Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and CEO of Alltech.
Alltech is an international company headquartered in Lexington, Ky., that focuses on improving animal health and performance by adding nutritional value to feed “naturally.”
Lyons addressed more than 100 invited guests in Springfield, Mo., on Jan. 22, during the last of 21 stops on his company’s North American Lecture Tour.
Lyons said as long as we continue to take six pounds of grain to get one pound of beef or two pounds of poultry, we are not going to be able to feed the world.
None less that billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates was quoted recently in Newsweek magazine; “If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without additional breakthroughs in health, energy and food… the world’s population will overwhelm the land available for farming.”
Dr. Lyons was on key with Gates’ thoughts, as this is where Alltech’s research and products come into play concerning health and food.
Nobody works harder than American farmers. But hard work may not be enough. The combination of science and resilience may allow farmers to “Bounce back” from the extremely tough year of 2009, Lyons projected.
According to Lyons, producers have to find ways to get more out of their animals. Alltech has been researching the branch of science called nutrigenomics for decades. In simple terms nutrigenomics is finding out how to feed the gene in an animal, learning how to turn genes on or off depending on what you are trying to accomplish, by understanding the function of a particular gene.
Another area of concern for Lyons is traceability, or what he called “farm to fork.” This is not just about the meat, but every product that goes into the steer that makes the meat.
When Lyons visited Springfield last year, he told the story of the 2007 crisis and near collapse of the pork industry in Ireland. Dioxin had made its way into swine feed. This year’s crisis could involve feed again but instead of a man-made poison, the culprit this time could be of natural origin. Lyons noted that 2009 brought one of the best U.S. corn crops ever, but with lots of rain. “When we tried to get it (the corn) out of the field, we couldn’t. It was wet and moldy. Ten percent of it was under snow.” For Lyons this means we are going to have a major mycotoxin problem in feeds in 2010.
Mycotoxin comes from two Greek words which mean essentially, poison mold. Moldy hay is familiar to many, but mycotoxins can also enter an animal in other ways; even through their bedding.
Farmers should be aware of what mycotoxins can do and look for such things as reduced performance or impaired immunity. If animals exhibit these symptoms, farmers should have their feed or silage checked.
Lyons is focused on the future of agriculture and human health as well.  While Alltech is an animal products company, their research into human health areas such as cancer and Alzheimers might find Dr. Lyons speaking in the future to an entirely different audience.


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