Production of foods and fibre derived from livestock has a major impact on the South African agricultural economy. Identification and use of livestock with appropriate genotypes will have a major impact on quality of products used for food, fibre, international competitiveness and efficiency of production. Research integrating nutrition, genetics, reproduction, physiology, microbiology, immunology, molecular biology and the production system and environment interaction, lead to increased production efficiency, sustainability, animal and environmental well-being and high-quality products that are imperative for the economic viability of animal agriculture.
Agricultural production is increasingly practised in such a systems relationship by optimising the entire production chain form the primary production systems, through post harvesting, transport and marketing to value adding both on and off-farm. Production systems R & D is the combination of genetic improvement with sound natural resource utilisation (both animals and plants) nutrition, forage management, physiology, product technology and economics of production. This will ensure a sustainable production enterprise through the best allocation of limited resources. This new concept of production systems must be developed into a scientific discipline that encompasses the different research disciplines. The focus must be the furtherance of animal science and related disciplines through innovative systems research and other investigations.
Climate change represents a feedback-loop in which livestock production both contributes to the problem and suffers from the consequences. The impact of global warming and continued uncontrolled release of greenhouse gasses (GHG) has twofold implications for the livestock industry, and consequently food security. Firstly, the continuous increase in ambient temperature is predicted to have a direct effect on the animal, as well as on food and nutrition security, because of changes associated with temperature itself, relative humidity, rainfall distribution in time and space, altered disease distribution, changes in the ecosystem and biome composition. Secondly, the responsibility of livestock production is to limit the release of GHG (i.e. the carbon footprint) and water use (i.e. the water footprint) in order to ensure future sustainability. This can be done through improved production efficiency, breeding to reduce the carbon footprint of livestock products by implementing new or adapted climate smart production systems, by use of known and new technologies that can limit GHG emissions and turn waste into assets.
FOCUS AREA 2 COMPONENT NUMBERS
Focus Area 2A: Livestock production with global competitiveness: Breeding, physiologyand management
A - Breeding / Genetics
B - Breeding to reduce the environmental impact
C - Reproduction efficiency
D - Livestock genetic resources
Focus Area 2B: Livestock production with global competitiveness: Animal growth, nutrition and management
E - Genetic improvement
F - Nutrient intake and utilization
G- Manipulation of nutrition to reduce methane
H - Baseline information on GHG and carbon sequestration and the effect of climate change