Foreword by Jackie Linden, ThePoultrySite.com
The vital importance of vitamins for the health of humans and other animals was established in the early and mid-20th century. Their specific roles in metabolism were investigated and a great deal of research was carried out to set the minimum requirement for each vitamin by each class and age of farm livestock.
The main aim in those times was to find the minimum amounts to avoid deficiency symptoms. This work was carried out around the middle of the 20th century, and a number of highly respected organisations, such as the National Research Council of the US, Agricultural Research Council of the UK and France’s Institut National de Recherche Agronomique based their estimates of vitamin requirements on the substantial body of research and published these around 20 years ago.
In the meantime, our food-producing animals - particularly poultry and pigs but cattle too - have changed fundamentally in terms of their productivity, and the systems under which they are kept have been modernised for greater efficiency. The impact of these changes on an animal’s requirement for a particular vitamin today can be little better than educated guesswork, since hardly any research has been conducted into the needs of modern genotypes in the intervening years.
The last two decades have also seen significant changes in societal attitudes, including a greater interest by consumers in how their food is produced, which has raised concerns, among others, related to animal welfare, the developments of antibiotic resistance in pathogens (in both human and veterinary medicine) and greater demands on food quality, both as a source of nutrients and a lifestyle choice.
To help update our knowledge of these complexities of 21st century life, DSM Nutrition has invited recognised experts in their respective fields to review the vitamin requirements of the various classes of farm livestock for maintenance, growth, breeding and production. They have also addressed aspects of animal health and welfare, as well as product (meat, milk egg) quality, where appropriate.
The resulting book, Optimum Vitamin Nutrition – in the Production of Quality Animal Foods, comprises seven chapters that will provide a valuable reference for the many nutritionists, veterinarians and other technicians around the world involved in animal production.
The book will also provide a useful basis for future research into the as-yet undiscovered ways in which vitamins can play a role in providing a growing global human population with adequate quantities of nutritious and safe food in a sustainable way, respecting both animal welfare and the environment.
Senior Editor, ThePoultrySite.com