Special Issue "Trace elements (minerals and vitamins) in non-ruminant livestock nutrition"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2019
Improvements in animal production over the last decades have been remarkable. Advances in animal reproduction, nutrition, health, welfare, and handling are reflected in better performance and productivity. However, these advances in intensive livestock production have also brought new challenges to, among others, animal nutritionists. This is mostly because the nutritional requirements have been changing over the years as a result of the use of more modern genetic lines of animals and production conditions. Surprisingly, most of the nutritional recommendations of micro-minerals and vitamins for non-ruminant animals were published more than 20 years ago. This is especially concerning for trace minerals because, although essential for livestock animals, they are environmentally classified as heavy metals. The lack of knowledge on the intestinal fate of these minerals in animals has limited the development of strategies to better control their bioavailability. As a consequence, a potential accumulation of these heavy metals in soils, with consequent contamination of ground and surface waters, is not unlikely. Nitrogen and phosphorous have been classified as the first identified nutrients of environmental concern, but trace minerals may become the next limiting factors for the expansion of livestock farming. It has also to be considered that some micro-minerals, such as zinc and copper, are used in supra-nutritional levels as an alternative to the prophylactic use of antibiotics in some species because of their intestinal bacteriostatic properties. Although efficient, over the last decades, evidence has suggested that this practice may increase the appearance of genes related to bacterial resistance to antibiotics and even of genes related to bacterial resistance to these minerals. For vitamins, heterogeneous recommendations can be found in the animal nutrition industry, and empiricism is still present mostly because of the limited scientific information on their overall metabolic fate. Research on the use of vitamins in animal nutrition has moved from prevention of deficiencies to maximization of growth and reproductive performance since the middle of the 20th century. However, little is known on the requirements to optimize energy metabolism, the establishment of the intestinal microbiome, and immune and antioxidant systems. Therefore, in the future, vitamins will possibly be considered not only as nutritional ingredients but also as functional nutrients to improve the overall robustness of animals and the nutritional quality of animal-derived products. The rise of new technologies together with the use of multidisciplinary approaches will help to fill the gaps of knowledge that are more apparent in the study of trace elements than in any other area of nutrition.
Dr. Danyel Bueno Dalto
Manuscript Submission Information
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- animal health
- trace elements