The FAO has published the paper: Crop residue based densified total mixed ration: A user-friendly approach to utilise food crop by-products. In this publication, the authors argue that “crop residues are valuable resources since they form a bulk of ruminant feed in many tropical countries. Due to lack of effective management of these resources, unfortunately they are being burnt in some countries, causing environmental pollution. The digestibility of crop residues and other low quality forages can be increased through the action of rumen microbes by strategically mixing nitrogen and minerals that are deficient in these feed resources. The increase in digestibility of crop residues and low quality forages, in turn also increases their intake. Both these phenomena enhance the efficiency of nutrient utilization from these feed resources in animal food chains.

To achieve this, the present paper discusses a technology based on the formation of a complete diet in the form of densified feed blocks or pellets from straws mixed with minerals, oil seed cakes and other agroindustrial by-products. The methods for preparation of such total mixed rations, their use and impact have been presented. It is hoped that this technology will enhance income of farmers, decrease environmental pollution and help alleviate shortage of good quality feeds in tropical countries. In addition, the feed produced in the densified form as blocks or pellets could also provide complete feed to livestock in emergency situations. Public-private partnership is expected to enhance the application and impact of this technology”.

This publication is available from the FAO website


SLP has now formally released the sub-Saharan Africa Feeds database – a user friendly searchable database containing information on the nutritive values of 20,913 samples of 566 of the major feeds used in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The database is available both on the web or on CD. This is the first time that such large amount of data on common feeds has been made publically available in this way. The purpose of putting both the database and the software to access it in the public domain is to enable extension, development and research agents to design scientifically-based and best-cost rations for meat, dairy and draught animals of small-scale African farmers. As their livestock assets are healthier and better nourished, these farmers become more food-secure and are able to increase their income from animal products.

This useful information tool was created as a joint effort of the SLP, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the Ethiopian Sanitary & Phytosanitary Standards and Livestock & Meat Marketing Program (SPS-LMM) with funding from USAID. The information can now be used to improve the feed analytical capacity to support livestock development in Ethiopia and throughout SSA. A poster has also been compiled on the nutritive values of the most commonly used feeds in Ethiopia to disseminate the information widely in Ethiopia.

The SSA Feeds database was described by Dr Alan Duncan as ‘a valuable resource for livestock research and development professionals in Ethiopia and beyond. It makes available a wealth of information about the nutritive value of feeds commonly used in Ethiopia. This will help in designing feeding strategies for livestock that are based on sound scientific principles. This is important as livestock production moves from subsistence to a more market-oriented mode of operation in certain areas.’ Developing “SSA Feeds” and making it available to the general public, its target users and ultimately, to its beneficiaries -small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa- is the result of the combined efforts of many individuals. The project was coordinated by Dr Salvador Fernandez-Rivera, whose dedication to feeds research in sub-Saharan Africa resulted in the development and design of this searchable web-published database. Since 2009 the project has been coordinated by Dr Bruno Gerard with support on animal nutrition and data quality from Dr Alan Duncan. Scientists and staff working over the years at the Animal Nutrition/Analytical Services Laboratories of ILRI in Addis Ababa and the feed labs of EIAR in Holetta, Ethiopia, provided and analyzed thousands of samples of feedstuffs and provided the basic data for the tool. David O. Anindo, Abdullah N. Said, A. Lahlou-Kassi, Jean Hanson, Markos Tibbo, Abate Tedla and Asebe Abdena contributed scientific expertise, Ephrem Getahun developed the computer programme and the ILRI web and graphics teams designed and manage the website.

The database is available from the SLP website

by Place F, Roothaert R, Maina L, Franzel S, Sinja J and Wanjiku J.

The objective of this study is twofold, to demonstrate (1) the effects of fodder shrubs on milk production and their value at the household and regional level and (2) the contribution of research by the World Agroforestry Centre toward strengthening the impact of fodder shrubs. The study is a synthesis of previous studies related to dissemination, adoption and impact combined with two new analyses, one quantitatively measuring the impact of the shrubs through econometric analysis and the other a qualitative analysis to better understand constraints on adoption and gender issues related to participation and control of benefits from fodder shrubs. Among the study findings are that fodder shrubs have been widely adopted in East Africa, by an estimated 205,000 smallholder dairy farmers by 2005. Women were active in planting shrubs, as monitoring found almost half of planters to be women. Several studies have confirmed that shrubs do have an impact on milk production. While feeding trials have found that 1 kilogram of calliandra increases milk production by 0.6–0.8 kilograms, a new survey of farmers’ perceptions in Kenya found the effect to be about half as large after controlling for the effects of breeds, season and other feeds. Whether the effect is the lower or higher estimate, the overall impact of theshrubs in terms of additional net income from milk is high, at US$19.7 million to $29.6 million in Kenya alone over the past 15 years.

Full report in pdf

Following the launch of the ILRI new website few weeks ago, link to the ILRI-SLP Feed Database was lost. It is now re-established

Visit the Feed Database

From the Food Climate Research Network

This briefing paper explores some of the arguments surrounding the relationship between what we feed and how we rear farm animals, and the availability and accessibility of food for human consumption. Does livestock production foster or hinder food security? In what ways are the contributions of intensive and extensive systems to food security different?

Link to PDF

CIAT is seeking applications for the position of a Forage and Livestock Systems Specialist. The position will be based at the Regional Office of CIAT in Asia, in Vientiane, Lao PDR, and will be housed within the Tropical Forages Program of CIAT.

CIAT in Asia has worked for more than two decades in Asia using multipurpose tropical forages to Improve farmer’s livelihood through more efficient and sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems while increasingly giving attention to reducing the ecological footprint in the framework of CIAT’s concept of ‘Ecoefficient agriculture for the poor’ ( for more information, please visit Current project activities are implemented in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The appointee will be responsible for the execution of these on-going projects and for the development of new research for development proposals. The forage specialist will also be expected – in collaboration with the Tropical Forages and Asia teams – to contribute to the adaptation of the vision and strategy on tropical forage research in a thematic and regional context.

CIAT is one of the 15 not-for-profit research institutions that make up the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) funded by various countries, private foundations, international and regional organizations. CIAT conducts socially, economically, and environmentally progressive agricultural research aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, and preserving natural resources in developing countries.

Role and responsibilities
The incumbent will report to the Tropical Forages Program leader and the Regional Research Coordinator Asia.
In coordination with the CIAT’s Tropical Forages and Asia teams the appointee will:

  • Develop and undertake research in forage based crop-livestock systems.
  • Develop and participate in capacity-strengthening programs related to the above work.
    Specific activities include
    Overseeing the implementation of on-going CIAT research projects in the fields of forages and livestock systems in southeast Asia.
  • Providing support in the area of forages and livestock to CIAT programs in Asia.
  • Contributing to capacity building of research and development practitioners including governmental and
    non-governmental institutions and other research and development partners in the area of forage based livestock-crop systems directed at improving smallholder livelihoods with reduced environmental
  • Developing new research for development proposals in the fields of forages and livestock systems in
    Asia that build on the outcomes of previous research and network of partners.
  • Maintaining and strengthening the network of forage related research and development in the region and with advanced research institutions from within and outside the region, with a particular emphasis on mentoring, capacity building, and collaborative activities with regional research for development institutions. Collaboration with sister centers from the CGIAR, in particular ILRI ( are sought.
  • Strengthening the link between CIAT’s Asia, Africa and Latin America programs in the fields of forages
    and livestock systems, and develop joint and complementary projects, where possible.
  • Contributing to CIAT’s regional activities through management and strategic planning activities.
  • Contributing to the representation of CIAT in research, donor, partnership and other fora, including
    research publications and external communications.

The candidate shall have the following competencies, skills and experience:

  • PhD, preferably in Agronomy or Livestock production, with good knowledge of Tropical Forages.
  • At least 5 years of relevant and successful experience in agricultural research.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the interface between social, economic, and environmental impacts of agriculture.
  • Demonstrated capacity in developing and implementing innovative research, contributing to the
    advance of knowledge related to the above.
  • Demonstrated participation in resource mobilization efforts.
  • Capacity in working in teams representing diverse range of nationalities, cultures and scientific
    disciplines, including strengthening of strategic partnerships based on mutual respect and efficient
  • Experience in management of projects will be advantageous.
  • Excellent English, both written and spoken.

Terms of employment
The position is internationally recruited. The contract will be for a two-year period, renewable depending on
performance in research outputs and resource mobilization. CIAT offers internationally competitive salary
packages. CIAT is an equal opportunity employer, and strives for staff diversity in gender and nationality.
Women and candidates from Asia are particularly encouraged to apply.

Applicants are invited to send a cover letter illustrating their suitability for the above position against the listed qualifications, competencies, and skills, together with a detailed curriculum vitae, including names and addresses of three referees knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience. Applications should be addressed to the Leader of CIATs Tropical Forages Program, Michael Peters (m.peters-ciat), with copies to the Regional Coordinator, CIAT Asia, Rod Lefroy (r.lefroy) and CIATs Human Resources (j.c.novoa). (add for email addresses) . Applications should clearly indicate `Application for Forage Resource Specialist Asia both in letters or email submissions.

All applications will be acknowledged, only short listed candidates will be contacted.

Closing date for applications: February 22, 2010.

To learn more about CIATCIAT’s program in Asia and CIAT’s forages work