Dr Javier Martín-Tereso
Manager Ruminant Research, Trouw Nutrition
Javier Martín-Tereso studied Agricultural Engineering in Madrid, where he specialised in Animal Science. In 2010, he obtained a PhD degree from Wageningen University with a thesis on dairy cattle nutrition. His studies included significant periods spent in Ohio, USA, and Ancona, Italy.
Tereso's professional career started in education; teaching science in Madrid and Spanish in Minnesota. In 2000, he moved to the Netherlands to join Nutreco's Research & Development team, where he has held a number of different roles. His research has mainly focused on health and efficiency in beef and dairy animals, and mineral nutrition across farm animal species. He has also held technical manager positions for feed additives and been a nutrition consultant for feed companies in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Since 2012, he has led Trouw Nutrition's Ruminant Research Centre, a team dedicated to dairy, beef and calf nutrition innovation. He has contributed to several scientific and technical publications, co-supervised Masters and PhD students from various universities, participated in international conferences, developed several products for the feed industry, and holds three patents.
Present and future opportunities in calf & beef nutrition research
Dr. Javier Martín-Tereso, Manager of Ruminant Research for Trouw Nutrition, was the final speaker on the first day of the international symposium that marked the official opening of Trouw Nutrition's new Calf & Beef Research Facility in April.
In looking towards the future of calf and beef research, the main thrust of his message was that this is a particularly good time for innovation on several fronts. He underscored the inherent efficiency of bovines in terms of how they turn resources into animal protein and the fact that we can and should do better in terms of ruminant health as well as with systemic inefficiency in the dairy production system. In referring to calves, he explained that what needs to be done now and in the future is to figure out how best to restore the natural production capacity of ruminants while keeping these factors in mind.
Bovines and extremely efficient! Let's build on that...
Dr. Martín-Tereso pointed out that while some people might claim that bovines are inefficient as they are slow to develop and have a low reproductive rate, and apparently inefficiently transform feed into animal protein, they actually have a potentially long lifespan, are highly adaptable to climate and geography and, most importantly, to feeds.
As Dr. Martín-Tereso put it, "Bovines are extremely adaptable. It's their niche in nature and production." He went on to say that evolution is merciless with inefficiency, and yet ruminants thrive as what they do best is to eat otherwise inedible resources, such as grasses and fibrous by-products, and turn them into edible foods! This fact alone makes ruminants incredibly efficient! If we use innovation to build on that efficiency, says Dr. Martín-Tereso, ruminant production will play an irreplaceable role in sustainable food production, in a future in which total resource efficiency will be critical to feed the world.
The need to do better in terms of health and systemic inefficiency
Additionally, Dr. Martin-Tereso decried the fact that intensive dairy systems annually cull 1/3 of animals due to disease and infertility and at the same time extensive beef systems only slaughter 1/3 of animals due to slow growth rates. In both cases, and for very different reasons, this is unacceptable in terms of efficiency and sustainability. He feels we need to sustainably intensify grazing beef systems to increase growth rates, therefore increasing the fraction of resources employed dedicated to growth instead of to maintenance. At the same time, he urged to reduce the incidence of production diseases in intensive dairy systems to improve parity structure, again directing resources employed towards milk production instead of to replacement stock. Dr. Martin-Tereso went on to point out that having to use milk or its by-products to feed young calves also contributes to cost and resource inefficiency, and future innovations in terms of calf nutrition could reduce this as well.
Ruminants are very efficient
Opportunities for the future
Dr. Martín-Tereso firmly believes that innovations in calf nutrition will lead the way into the future. For beef, he pointed to the challenge of finding additional, otherwise non-utilized sources of feed, such as increasing fibre utilization and exploring non-protein nitrogen use. For dairy calves, he stressed recent improvements in the understanding of metabolic programming that show that if a calf is treated well in the first few months of life, adult heifers can yield up to 1000 more litres of milk in their 1st lactation. He explained that while we do know this happens, the next step is understanding how this happens.
What is the mode of action? Once we know the answer to this, Dr. Martín-Tereso explained, then we can control the reproducibility of this effect!
He emphasized, however, that the science of metabolic programming is not involved with creating an effect or merely increasing production, but that what they are looking to do is restore the production potential that is already inherent in dairy calves, but wasn't allowed to come to fruition previously due to the restricted feeding practices of the past.
Thus, Trouw Nutrition's LifeStart Program, which emphasizes neonatal nutrition for calves, is poised to make great strides in both metabolic programming and in calf milk replacers in the foreseeable future.
Watch this interview of Javier Martín-Tereso