Ruminant diets continue to be predominantly based on crop residues and natural pastures in many low- and middle-income countries. Feed quality is usually low, especially during the dry season when few alternative feeds are available. Feeding strategies, designed to improve the intake and balance of nutrients to improve livestock productivity, rely on understanding the overall and seasonal nutritive value of the feeds in the diet. Laboratory analysis to assess the key nutritional attributes of feeds and diets is a key activity which supports ILRI’s activities in feed resource utilization in livestock value chains.

The nutritional analysis laboratory provides high quality analytical services for a broad range of feed samples for ILRI staff, students and partners (for a comprehensive list see the sub-Saharan Africa feeds composition database (https://feedsdatabase.ilri.org/). Most analysis relies on the use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) capabilities and specifically developed predictive equations to determine chemical composition of the feeds. Around 32 different parameters can be analysed by the platform, including: dry matter; organic matter; acid detergent fibre; neutral detergent fibre; acid detergent lignin; crude protein; total nitrogen; ash; fat; digestibility (in vitro gas production); metabolizable energy; phosphorus; macro and micro dietary minerals (Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Zn, Mn and Cu); water soluble carbohydrates and starch. We have developed a NIRS microsite which documents our NIRS capability and lists the various prediction equations we have developed over the years.

The laboratory supports global research for ILRI and partners in the development of dozens of peer reviewed journal articles, PhD and MSc theses. In addition, it serves as a regional NIRS-Hub with connections to National Agricultural Research Institutes, and private sector laboratories. It contributes to the ILRI NIRS platform by developing – validating and distributing NIRS equations for phenotyping in a wide range of animal nutrition quality traits.

The laboratories are kept busy with the analysis of forage samples, both to assess diversity within species and the impact of different environments and management practices on these forages, and feed samples from various ILRI and CGIAR feeds projects. The objective is to determine nutritional value for feed utilization and for modelling trade-offs in the use of crop residues and agro-industrial by products. In addition to the laboratory analyses, practical training in different lab methodologies and operation of equipment is provided to ILRI graduate fellows and laboratory staff from the institute and partner organisations.

If you would like to know more about the range of analyses and costs and opportunities for training with ILRI, please contact Yonas Asmare.

ILRI Addis feeds and forage nutrition lab analysis service and cost recovery charges

S.NService TypeService Charge Rate (in USD)Reference Method of Analysis
1Drying fresh sample in oven(if service requested only for drying)2 
2Sample drying, Processing and grinding7 
3NIRS scanning and prediction5 
4Dry matter (DM) for wet chemistry8AOAC 934.01
5Ash15AOAC 942.05
6Both DM and ash15AOAC 934.01 and 942.05
7Nitrogen (N)/crude protein (CP)18AOAC method 976.05
8Neutral Detergent fiber (NDF)19Van Soest PJ and Robertson JB. 1985
9Acid detergent fiber (ADF)19Van Soest PJ and Robertson JB. 1985
10Acid Detergent Lignin (ADL)25Van Soest PJ and Robertson JB. 1985
11Both ADF and Acid Detergent Lignin (ADL)25Van Soest PJ and Robertson JB. 1985
12IVOMD/ME, gas production method25 Menke and Steingass (1988)
13Minerals from feed, faeces and rumen digesta (2 to 5 elements)35Perkin-Elmer manual
Note: from S.N 4 to 13 are Wet-Chemistry procedures