Ruminant livestock, such as cattle, can convert biomass into high-quality, nutrient-dense foods (Broderick, 2018). This ability enables livestock to play a critical role in increasing the productive utilization not only of fertile but also of marginal lands unsuitable for crop production (Wang et al., 2021). In the tropics, the sustainable intensification of livestock production systems plays a critical role in supporting rural livelihoods and meeting food security and environmental goals (Herrero et al., 2013; Rao et al., 2015). Despite its importance, less is known about the productivity and environmental impacts of tropical livestock systems compared to livestock production systems under other climatic regimes (i.e., temperate climate). This knowledge gap limits our ability to inform actions that lead to sustainable intensification in the tropics. However, it is unambiguous that the intensification of livestock systems in the tropics heavily depends on availability and access to quality feed since the limited previous studies have generally reported higher levels of animal production when feed supplements are included in livestock diets. Specifically, feed options such as cultivated forage legumes, crop residues and improved grasslands represent necessary feed resources, which can be accessible to tropical farmers with limited investments and better organization.
2022, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems