Can Animal Feeding Practices Influence Nutrient Runoff?
Balanced diets are good for the animal and good for the environment. When diets are out of balance, excess nutrients will be wasted. This is most important when feeding protein (contains nitrogen) and phosphorous. It is impossible for all nutrients to be in a perfect balance in commercial or mixed diets, but it is important to come close to meeting an animal's nutrient needs. If the diet is balanced except for one underfed nutrient, then the entire production of the animal will be limited to the level of this "limiting nutrient," and other nutrients may be wasted. [For example, if protein is overfed, then excess nitrogen and/or other nutrients will be excreted.] Phosphorus is required in the diet of animals, but if overfed or wasted, can contaminate the environment and water supplies. Phosphorous should be fed in a form more available for animal production since excesses will be lost. Research has shown that the proper feeding of nitrogen and phosphorus can result in a reduction of nutrients released into the environment.