Ruminant diets continue to be based on crop residues and natural pastures in many developing countries. Feed quality is low, especially during the dry season when few alternative feeds are available. Feeding strategies to improve the intake and balance of nutrients to improve livestock productivity rely on knowing the seasonal nutritive value of the feeds in the diet. Laboratory analysis to assess the key nutritional attributes of feeds and diets supports ILRI’s activities in feed resource utilization in value chains.
The nutritional analysis laboratories provide high quality service analysis for a range of feeds and soil samples for ILRI staff, students and partners. Most analysis relies on the use of near infrared spectroscopy and use of predictive equations to determine chemical composition of the feeds. In addition about 40 different parameters can be analysed in the laboratory, including dry and organic matter (DM/OM), total and acid insoluble ash, crude protein, phosphorus, ammonia, fiber fractionation and lignin, nitrogen bound to fiber, volatile fatty acids and lactic acid, gross energy, fat, macro and micro minerals, amino acid and phenolics, soluble and condensed tannins and digestibility (in vitro, gas production and in sacco).
The laboratory is kept busy with analysis of forage samples to assess diversity within species and feed samples from the East Africa Dairy Development Project and other ILRI and CGIAR feeds projects to determine nutritional value for feed utilization and for modelling trade-offs in use of crop residues. 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 partner institutions.
If you would like to know more about the range of analyses and costs and opportunities for training with ILRI, please contact: Alexandra Jorge.