Farming for a Healthier fork - The Link Between Animal and Human Nutrition

by Olalekan Abdulsalami on 14 Jul 2020 • 4 comments
3 min read

‘You are what you eat’. This phrase is used to encourage us think hard about our food choices, but what does it really mean? And when we think about what we eat, what is the impact of the nutrition that is provided to the animals that we, as humans, will consume?  Is the concept of ‘personalized nutrition’ applicable to animal nutrition, and would it impact human health?

The world population is growing at an alarming rate and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Thus, feeding the fast-growing population and improving health have become top priorities.

The human body consists of 17% protein; it is dependent on animal-based products, such as meat, fish, egg, and milk. Going forth, the main challenge is to produce protein in ways that sustain our planet and not drain it. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the global annual meat consumption could reach 373 million metric tons by 2030 and 465 million metric tons by 2050.

Animal nutrition emphasizes on the dietary needs of animals, predominantly those in agriculture and food production. Feed additives are integral components of animal nutrition that are developed to meet objectives, such as improving the quality of feed and food products from animal origin, animals’ performance, and productivity and health, as well as providing enhanced digestibility of feed materials. These additives require regulatory approval and scientific evidence to regard them as safe products for humans, animals, and the environment.

Key problems encountered by the animal feed and nutrition industry are ways of making animal feed cost-effective, readily available, and of high quality without compromising its productivity.

In the Nigerian veterinary system, most farmers engaged in animal husbandry do not engage the services of veterinary doctors to cater for the well-being of these animals. This most times lead to over-use of antibiotics, incorrect dosages or improper use of the administrations on the animals which are most times harmful to humans at consumption level. 

These antibiotics are also used to enhance and hasten animal growth, and what they are fed, in turn has an effect on our body system which put into right perspective the plea to use adequate nutrients not harmful to human body while trying to maximize profit in animal husbandry.

Probiotics and prebiotics could be employed in animal nutrition as safe antibiotic replacers to provide healthy and safe food. Feed phytogenics also referred to as phytobiotics, are plant-based feed additives utilized in animal nutrition. These are derived from herbs, spices, and extracts (such as essential oils); they provide key solutions for conventional and antibiotic-free animal nutrition.  Other viable alternatives to antibiotics could be bacteriophage therapy, antimicrobial peptides (amphiphilic polypeptides), lysin therapy, and bacteriocins.

Conclusively, there are many ways to keep the consumption line clean and healthy, the aforementioned antibiotic-replacers (probiotics and prebiotics) are proven to be harmless in animal nutrition. Veterinary services should also be engaged by large scale and small scale farmers especially in an African system where animals are reared with little or no professional supervision.   


The impact of animal nutrition on human health [Retrieved from on July 10th, 2020]

Animal feed and nutrition [Accessed from on 10th, July 2020]

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  1. 16 Jul 2020 AT 14:20 PM

  2. Okoli Ifeanyi Charles

    16 Jul 2020 AT 14:37 PM

    Yes, additive use abuse is a major source of human health risk from animal feeds. I believe that there are more areas to explore on the subject such as mycotoxin contamination, which is a very important global public health issue that influences trade in animal products. The problems of heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, GMO crops and microbial contamination are also there to explored. Another dimension is the consequence of feeding novel feed raw materials and their impact on animal products quality. So much to highlight on this and we look forward to many weeks of informative blog posts. Very useful blog!
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