Research of the Animal Nutrition Group

The Animal Nutrition Group aims to provide a fundamental understanding of nutritional processes and the effect of dietary compounds on the health, growth, welfare or longevity of production animals (dairy cows, calves, pigs, poultry) and companion animals (cats and dogs). We develop knowledge on the utilisation of (anti-)nutrients in feed/feed ingredients and their impact on the animal. We follow dietary nutrients as they are broken down (digested and fermented), absorbed and metabolised by animals.

Core areas of our research are feed technology, digestive processes, nutrient metabolism and requirements, sensing of nutrients, the interaction between nutrients and gene expression and mechanistic modelling of nutrient utilisation. Three major animal species groups have been established with a staff member responsible to develop and coordinate research in collaboration with the head of the group. 

Depeding on the animal species of interest, different research areas and techniques are applied. Research areas have been developed in close collaboration with our two Centre for Animal Nutrition partners. A close collaboration exists with Wageningen Livestock Research in the line ruminant and pigs/poultry/veal. Feline/canine/equine nutrition research is conducted in close collaboration with our other Centre partner (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University).

Research areas and target animal species
Ruminants Pigs/poultry/veal Cats/dogs Horses
Feed technology ++ +++
Nutrient analyses +++ +++ +++ ++
In vitro +++ ++ +++ +
Digestion/metabolism +++ +++ +++ +
Nutrigenomics ++ ++
Modelling +++ ++

Ruminant nutrition research is focussed on rumen fermentation, nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency, greenhouse gas emission/mitigation, feed evaluation and nutrient flows. Techniques applied are in vivo, in sacco and in vitro as well (in silico) mechanistic modelling. Research areas on monogastric production animals (pigs/poultry/calves) including feed evaluation, nutrition and immunology, nutrient requirements and modelling of nutrition processes. Canine/feline nutrition research is centred around feed evaluation/technology, nutrient metabolism and evolutionary nutrition with equine nutrition research concentrated around digestive health.

Our state-of-the-art laboratory facilities allow us to analyse a multitude of nutrients, biologically active components and stable isotopes and we have access to excellent facilities to conduct in vivo studies on a number of animal species. We have unique research capacities in the following disciplines: