Ireland imports over 64% of the feed ingredients required to make concentrates. With the supply chain disruptions and emissions associated with feed imports, using native feed ingredients reduces the carbon footprint and the cost of imported feeds. 


Ireland is just 36% self-sufficient in animal concentrate feeds which are considered key dietary sources of energy and protein in ruminants, pig and poultry production systems.

Why should I use local/ native feed ingredients?

  • The main feed ingredient sources used in Ireland are soybeans and maize and their products which are mainly imported from South America. 
  • The high price volatilities, negative externalities in terms of GHG emissions and use of genetically modified (GMO)  from imports provide a threat to the Irish livestock sector.
  • Locally produced feed ingredients are environmentally and economically sustainable.

The following video provides details on how local feed ingredients can be used to replace imports

How do I use the native feed ingredients?

  • Instead of relying on imports, feed blends can be made from the following ingredients available in Ireland: maize, oats, barley, wheat and products, oilseed rape and beans.
  • Where Irish-based feed ingredients are not enough to meet demand, European-based products would be the next best alternative as their carbon footprint would be lower than South American-based products.
  • The feed suppliers would know the mixing ratios to ensure the feed concentrates have sufficient nutrients required.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

The Table below shows the potential reduction of emissions and the net annual savings when native feeds are used instead of imported feeds.

Emission reduction from the use of native feeds

Scenario 1
Conventional feeds
Scenario 2
Local feeds (100% native)
Feed cost (€/t)427457
Annual feed cost4368246751
Net cost-3069
Emissions impact (kg CO2-eq / kg FPCM)
Total Emissions0.960
Reduction in emissions (%)6.35
 kg CO2-eq / kg FPCM is the carbon footprint per kg of Fat and Protein corrected milk
Average feed consumption 1100kg/cow/year
The conventional feeds include more imported feed ingredients while native feed ingredients are strictly local


Research at Farm Zero C

For the Farm Zero C project, diets were formulated with different inclusion rates for the local ingredients, beans, oats and barley. This is to reduce dependence on imported grain and soya beans, especially from Southern America. The results of these analyses were further incorporated into the Life Cycle Analysis for the farm and over 6% emission reductions were realised.

Other  research

Key findings from previous research include:

Researchers in Europe have trialed the possibility of replacing imported soya ingredients with some feedstuff from within Europe and these are some of the findings.

  • The faba beans are an excellent source of both protein and energy for dairy cows therefore they can be a replacement for soyabean meal (Hansen et al., 2021; Mendowski et al., 2021).
  • There was no effect on performance in terms of growth and carcass and meat quality for bulls when soya bean was replaced by either faba beans, pumpkin, or spirulina for grass/ maize silage-fed bulls (Keller et al., 2021).

Links to more research

Sustainability of ruminant livestock production in Ireland

Sustainability of the Irish crop sector


The use of native feeds as energy and protein sources is supported by the following regulations and action plans.

European green deal

The Nitrates and Water Directive Ireland

The Nitrates derogation– A maximum crude protein of 15% is permissible in concentrate fed to grazing livestock.

Ag Climatize roadmap 2021– The use of native feed ingredients is in line with the following actions of the roadmap to climate-neutral agriculture.

  • “Action 6: Reduce the crude protein content of livestock feeding stuff to 15% to minimise ammonia loss.”
  • “Action 8: Increase the proportion of home-grown protein in livestock rations in order to reduce over-reliance on imported feed ingredients.”


The local feed suppliers and cooperatives would have sufficient information on the origin of their feed ingredients.