Harnessing circular and carbon-sequestering local feed resources to close the nutrition gap of cross-bred dairy cattle in Uganda supported by metabolic biomarkers

October 2023 to September 2025
sustainable intensification
livestock systems
nutritional status
nutritional value
novel feed resources
Makerere University (Uganda)
Research fields
Agriculture and Food Sciences

In the Global South, sustainable intensification of livestock systems is considered key to help achieve several sustainable development goals (e.g. 1, 2, 5, 12 and 13), but to do so not only animal productivity and health should be addressed but also conservation of natural resources and mitigation of climate change. Particularly, in urban and semi-urban smallholder dairy production systems, crossbreeding is promoted as a means of sustainable intensification, but feeding systems, which properly meet, and balance nutrient requirements are lagging. An obvious pitfall in this context is the external sourcing of feedstuffs to solve nutrient shortages. However, this is capital-intensive, inaccessible to many smallholder farmers and disruptive to a circular economy. Indeed, local carbon-captive and circular feeding systems are critical but still in their infancy and limited scientific knowledge and technologies hamper their use. Obviously, to appropriately address nutritional imbalances, the nutritional status and needs of dairy crossbreeds should be monitored and the nutritional value of novel feed resources should be assessed. Therefore, the multidisciplinary expertise of Ghent and Makerere University, National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) and Ento Organic Farm Uganda Ltd. shall be harnessed to: 1/ transfer state-of-the-art scientific results on nutrient shortages in crossbred dairy cows identified through metabolic biomarkers in blood spot samples, 2/ identify circular feeds as well as shrub- and tree-based resources with carbon-sequestering capacity and assess their potential to close the nutrient gap, 3/ include diverse feed resources in diet formulations to close the nutritional gaps of crossbred dairy cattle and 4/ identify technological and other challenges hampering practical implementation of novel feed resources and to develop a research road map to a new project proposal.