Man, Animals Interdependent For Balanced Diets, Says Prof. Ukachukwu
Professor of Animal Nutrition at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Umuahia, Professor Sunday Ukachukwu has posited that man and animal are interdependent for nourishment, saying that while man depends on animals for special need of nutrients, animals look up to man for quality or balanced diets, especially in animal husbandry.
He also stated that balanced diets are essential for animals to yield their full potential as animal products, which are needed in the diets of man for healthy living.
Delivering the 22nd Inaugural Lecture of the University recently, with the topic, “Killers To Edibles – A Key To Sustainable Livestock And National Development,” Ukachukwu said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the nutritional needs of farm animals because of two principal reasons.
He listed the reasons as scarcity, high demand and cost of conventional feedstuffs. The other, he ascribed to competition between farm animals, man and industry for scarce commodities, adding that the animal is the most disadvantaged of the competitors.
According to him, the scenario has forced the animal nutritionist to embark on a search for alternative feed ingredients that are rarely consumed by man or useful in the industries pointing out however that, “ most of these alternatives are rather poisonous materials.”
On why he chose the theme, he said, “it is a summary of my contribution to knowledge in my profession, where I have essentially focused on seeking the means of converting the poisonous alternatives (killers) to non-poisonous quality novel feeds (edibles) in order to maintain a sustainable livestock sector for the wellbeing and development of our nation.”
While he held that the key to sustainable livestock development include efficient use of feed resources and enlargement of the feed resource base through a quest for new feed resources particularly those not competing with human food, he posited that nutrition as a profession has grown and progressed from the stand point of common sense to complex science.
According to Ukachukwu, nutrition remained essentially an art until the chemist became interested in the nature of foods, adding that food was described in terms of chemical entities or groups of entities with unique nutritive properties.
“ It was then discovered that not all foods contain every necessary nutrient and that in most foods the proportions of the various nutrients are inadequate to the body’s needs hence following on the heels of this, was the finding that by appropriate combinations of foods, the assortment on nutrients in the diet could be made to approximate the body needs.”
Ukachukwu said accessibility to these quality proteins will ensure a healthy workforce that will positively contribute to the development of our nation and economy, stressing the need for a healthy mind in a healthy body to build sharp brains.
As Nigeria’s population increases, it propels demand for livestock products, therefore, he urged governments, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and industrialists to take up the challenge of transforming the research results and prototypes into concrete products that are consumed by animal farmers and feed millers.