Celebrating the vital importance of livestock animals

Published 14 November 2011

rogerA public lecture in Armidale about livestock production will emphasise the need to increase productivity while minimising the environmental impact.

Roger Hegarty, Professor of Animal Nutrition at the University of New England, will present his Inaugural Lecture to the Armidale community on Wednesday 16 November. His lecture, at 6.30 pm in Armidale Town Hall, will be titled “Animal agriculture: Sinner or saviour of tomorrow’s world?”

For the past decade, Professor Hegarty (pictured here) has worked to provide national leadership in the reduction of methane emissions from livestock. This has involved major contributions to setting research directions for both the Australian and the New Zealand Governments, and the drafting of proposals for methane-related research projects that currently have more than $3 million in funding.

“For over 8,000 years, humanity has drawn on domesticated livestock for the necessities of survival and productivity,” Professor Hegarty said. “Industrial, scientific and information advances have enabled the developed world to move from surviving for today to planning for tomorrow, and we now recognise that our harvest from the sea, the soil, and the plants and animals that the earth supports is often exploitative and unsustainable.”

“In a society addicted to bad news, emissions of greenhouse gases from livestock animals are bringing them into the global spotlight as an environmental challenge,” he continued. “But while this needs to be addressed, we should recognise – and celebrate – the fact that ruminant animals take pasture and crop residues that hold no nutritive value for people and transform them into meat, milk, fibre and hides for the advantage of humanity. This is an animal-mediated transformation of biomass that provides approximately 80 million tons of meat and 700 million tons of milk worldwide each year. Current research aims for both greater productivity and reduced emissions.”

“With the global population predicted to rise to 9.1 billion by 2050, world food demand is expected to rise by 70 per cent,” Professor Hegarty said. “We in livestock research and agriculture face an expanded challenge: to focus on both improving production efficiency and minimising environmental impact. In doing so we must not lose sight of the breadth of benefits that livestock provide, and look for optimised productivity to meet global requirements rather than simply demanding minimised impact.”

Everyone is welcome to attend this free lecture, which will be preceded by an academic procession. The Chancellor of UNE, the Hon. Richard Torbay, will welcome guests to the event. Drinks and canapés in the Town Hall foyer will follow the lecture.