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Animal Welfare and Forage Industry

Release time:2018-06-12

On December 16th, 2017, the Third Chinese Forage Enterprise Forum is held in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. This forum focuses on new ideas and motivations in the integrated development of forage and livestock development.
At the forum, Zhang Ying, Chief Scientist of National Forage Industry Technology System and Professor of China Agricultural University, makes a report named “New Development of National Forage Industry System Technology Research”. Zhang Kaifeng, General Manager of Inner Mongolia Zhongcao Jinfu Forage Industry Co., Ltd., shares his analysis and research about how forage companies cooperate in dealing with challenges. Other renowned experts and company representatives from Inner Mongolia, Dalian and Gansu Province also make wonderful speeches.

Ayoshi, Secretary General of the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare, makes a speech named “Animal Welfare and Healthy Development of Forage Industry”. Ayoshi notes that animal welfare and good development of forage industry are both powerful approaches for the green development of livestock industry. Products derived from grass-fed animals can be high-end animal welfare-friendly products. Forage industry and welfare-friendly cattle & sheep industry are closely related.

The Cattle & Sheep Standards developed by the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare and promulgated by China Association for Standardization emphasize that fiber feeds, including forage, should account for more than 60% of the total feeds. In rich grasslands of Inner Mongolia, developing welfare-friendly free-range farming and semi-shed farming could contribute to grassland protection, conserve biodiversity and avoid grain waste. The research of the United Nations shows that the stomach of herbivores is fit for grazing grass. Forcefully feeding other stuff can easily result in increases of animal diseases. Therefore, natural behaviors and needs of herbivores should be taken into account. The percentage of forage should be increased in animal feeds. Animal welfare is an important approach for the supply-side reform of livestock industry. Animal welfare can contribute to the production of high-quality livestock products, Grass-fed welfare-friendly cattle & sheep products are high-quality livestock products.
However, some livestock producers haven’t fully recognized the unique value of grass-fed cattle & sheep. Therefore, intensive production systems are widely adopted, and concentrated feeds are largely used. In this way, the advantages of grassland will be lost gradually. For producers in Inner Mongolia, competing with intensive production systems of central and southern part of China is like comparing one’s shortages with others’ advantages. In the end, “bad money drives out good”, and the idealistic scene as described in ancient lyrics “under boundless sky, on vast plains, cows and sheep can be seen when the wind blows and grass lowers”, will probably fade out. For these problems, animal welfare can be a solution, i.e., grass-fed cattle & sheep production should be developed. Product differentiation system and marketing strategy should be developed as a means to improve the income of producers and encourage welfare-friendly grass-fed livestock production. At last, Ayoshi calls for more attention to animal welfare and the harmonious development of forage, livestock and environment.
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