News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Innovative feed assessment tool to aid smallholder livestock farmers develop site-specific animal feeding options

ELF team conducts PRA exercise on feed assessment tools
The Ethiopian Livestock Feed project team carries out a participatory rapid appraisal in Godina near Debre Zeit, Ethiopia to test feed assessment tools (photo credit: ILRI/Kara Brown).

Smallholder livestock farmers stand to gain from better animal feeding options, thanks to an innovative tool that improves feed assessment by taking a broader approach to also analyze factors relating to production, marketing and input service provision and how these affect the quality and availability of animal feeds.

Conventional feed assessments normally focus just on the type of feed and how to boost its nutritive value so as to improve livestock productivity.

The new feed assessment tool (FEAST) builds on this by adopting a broader scope that takes into account the entire smallholder farming system.

It also uses rapid appraisals to quickly and systematically assess feed resources and demand within a particular farming system.

Why use FEAST?
  • It uses participatory approaches to draw on the knowledge and experiences of both farmers and researchers.
  • It is site-specific and thus is useful in designing and targeting of feed intervention strategies for a particular location.
  • It enables analysis of the importance of livestock in local livelihoods and the relative importance of feed-related problems that farmers face.
  • It gives an insight into key factors such as labour, input availability, credit, seasonality and markets for products.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been developing FEAST since 2009 and the tool has been tested in South Asia and Africa.

The collaborative East Africa Dairy Development project has used FEAST as an entry point for other feed-related interventions.

ILRI recently showcased FEAST at an exhibition on the sidelines of the 13th Biennial Scientific Conference of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) that was held on 22-26 October 2012 at the KARI Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Under the theme, Showcasing agricultural products, technologies and innovations, the event featured some 500 exhibitors from all over the country.

The poster below, Developing site specific feed plans using the feed assessment tool (FEAST), gives a summary of how FEAST works, the advantages of using the tool and some sample outputs from the East Africa Dairy Development project.

Developing site specific feed plans using the feed assessment tool (FEAST) from ILRI

For more information about FEAST, please contact ILRI feed specialist Bernard Lukuyu (b.lukuyu @ or visit

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