We are as healthy as what we eat, eats I Konagh Garrett, Lincoln University

The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, 2,500 years ago said ‘we are what we eat’ and Lincoln University in 2021 researchers are continuing to prove his adage that for food to be thy medicine we need to give our animals more choice in what they are eating.

Increasing societal demand for our products to come from happy and healthy animals may lead to more selective multi-species feeding of livestock that Lincoln University research shows can provide a more ethical story, more environmental benefits and nutrient-dense red meat from humans.

“Provide animals with a diverse diet, give them the ability to forage their own food, they are less stressed, they eat the right nutrients, and ultimately so do we,” explains Konagh.

One of this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Change Maker, Lincoln University Pastoral Livestock Production Lab PhD candidate, Konagh Garrett explains their team’s research:

  • Looking at the diet of the animal that we are consuming affects the quality and health benefits humans receive.

  • By providing animals with choice, you're giving them some control over their environment and meeting their nutritional needs, lowering their levels of stress as they can express their preference and their likings to foods. By having those options, they're able to also consume more food and be more productive because they're able to create different plant combinations so that they don't become more satiate and become sick of eating the same thing over and over again!

  • Increasing societal demand for our products has come from happy and healthy animals, so multi-species feeding can provide a more ethical story, more environmental benefits and nutrient-dense foods.

  • Trials studying what ewes eat shows that lambs also prefer that same species of plants and so if you shift lambs to a different diet it can cause stress that affects eating quality.

To read the research “How Dietary Diversity Enhances Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being in Grazing Ruminants”:

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