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WITH an expanding global human population, the production and maintenance of an adequate food supply are of increasing importance for a sustainable future. Recent projections predict that the global population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050 (a 34 per cent increase on 2009) and 7.7 billion by 2020 (FAO 2009). Urbanisation continues to rise, which tends to increase average income, resulting in increasing demands for animal protein, with most of the supply still coming from eggs, meat and milk derivatives. It is therefore critical that we maintain an efficient level of production that can deal with these demands. Agricultural land is no longer a limitless resource, with much of the Earth's potential surface already claimed. There are therefore increasing pressures on livestock producers worldwide, in whatever production system they employ, to develop sustainable systems that better use technology to increase efficiency and productivity, while also enhancing animal welfare, minimising environmental impact and using veterinary medicines responsibly.
The number of dairy cows globally stands at 260 million, with EU numbers stable at 23.2 million, but the UK herd has fallen to 1.78 million, decreasing 6.7 per cent in the last five years (DairyCo 2013). Although the number of cows is fairly stable, the amount of milk produced in the EU has actually increased from 149 billion litres in 2008 to 152 billion litres in 2012 (FAO 2014). In the UK, average …
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