International Network of Feed Information Centre (INFIC)
Feeding farm animals is a process of priority decision-making involving at least two general conditions. The first is an abundance of food material which is not in a usable form or aesthetically acceptable as human food, and the second is a surplus of food material accompanied by a standard of living sufficiently high that the nutrient losses involved in feeding animals are compensated for by the increased desirability and nutritional excellence of foods of animal origin.
Decisions relevant to the first set of conditions include determining the optimum numbers and kinds of animals that can be productively supported by the available feedstuffs. Efforts should be made to maximize production; but also to allocate nutrient supplies in a competitive situation for the maximum benefit to the society concerned. These decisions are among the most critical that civilization faces today.
Decisions can be made only on the basis of reliable information concerning the composition of all feed materials used in animal feeding. This information is fundamental in assigning priorities to the use of available feed supplies in animal agriculture.
German documentation began in 1949 and the United States began in 1952. Although there was some contact between the two centres for several years, it was not possible to combine or adapt the systems to each other. Personnel at the Utah (United States) centre contacted FAO concerning the need for world cooperation. FAO, in turn, sent a consultant to review on-going international activities in the fields of feed data collection and methods for retrieval of these data, and to report on possibilities for collaboration on an international basis. The report (Alderman, 1971) enumerated the value of a collaborative effort in this field, both to developing countries and to animal production at the international level and recommended that FAO act as the coordinator for international activities in collection of data on feed composition and its summarization and dissemination.
The first consultation meeting was held in 1971, in Rome. At that time representatives from several feed information services formed the International Network of Feed Information Centre (INFIC Publication 1, 1977). Members (besides FAO) were: Australian Feed Information Centre, Sydney, Australia; Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Canada; International Feedstuffs Institute, Utah State University, Utah, U.S.A.;. US AID Feed Composition Project, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A., and Universität Hohenheim, Dokumentationsstelle, Stuttgart, Federal Republic of Germany.
Since then, meetings of the INFIC group have been held annually, and the following centres have joined INFIC: The Arab Centre for Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), Damascus, Syria; College of Fisheries, Aquaculture Division, University of Washington, U.S.A.; The International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Institute d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux (IEMVT), Maisons-Alfort, France; the Latin American Programme for Feed and Feeding Systems, at the Institute Interamericano de Ciencias Agricolas (IICA), San Jose, Costa Rica; and the Tropical Products Institute (TPI), London, United Kingdom. In the meantime, the US AID Feed Composition Project in Florida has been terminated and its responsibilities were transferred to the Utah Centre. Participation by other feed information services throughout the world is encouraged by INFIC. All centres function independently with regard to financing, personnel, data retrieval, research and publications.