Livestock, environment and food safety

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
AGR/18 AGR/19
Learning objectives
First aim of the course is to provide information and knowledge on the influence of animal husbandry on the territory and the environment, underlying the strong relationships with other areas such as pedology, agronomy, economy. Several practical examples of the positive or negative influence of animal production on the environment in different situations (intensive, semi-extensive, extensive systems) will help the student to learn, but also to develop a critical approach in the evaluation process. This will be essential when and if he/she will be implicated in a private or public process of decision/management. Second aim of the course is to analyze different aspects of the quality of food of animal origin and to study the influence of husbandry systems on quality of animal products.
Expected learning outcomes
After passing the exam, the student will have acquired knowledge and expertise in terms of methodological and executive approach as far as animal production and environment are concerned. Particularly, he/she will have a more clear and holistic view of the issue (animal husbandry and the environment) and will be able to face it, together with experts of the different areas involved. In addition the student will have acquired tools and methodologies to assess and manage quality issues in the production of animal derived food at farm level, for technical or managerial activities with farms, food industries, retails.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
Overview of the different livestock production systems in Italy and in the world, with their assets and critical points. Among the assets: the load of organic matter to the soil with an increased soil fertility, and, depending on the type of livestock system, the contribution to maintain a various, diversified environment, with open space and vegetable and animal biodiversity. Among the critical aspects: the risk of overgrazing, an excessive nitrogen and phosphorus excretion if the livestock density is too high, with a consequent nitrate leaching in groundwater and ammonia emission from the slurries to the air. E.U. Nitrate Directive and its practical consequences on animal production in Italy and particularly in Lombardy region will be thoroughly analysed. Phosphorus excretion by animals and the associated environmental risks will be investigated, as well as greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and feeding and managing techniques able to reduce their impact. Animal husbandry in the mountain and its effects on the environment will be considered also (to preserve landscape, biodiversity and prevent landslides) as well as animal production and the use of water. Additive and heavy metals residues from animal feeding and management will be analysed. Examples of animal husbandry techniques and biodiversity will be given. Finally diets and feeding systems specially focused on minimize the environmental impact of both dairy and beef cattle and pigs will be presented and discussed.

1) Hygienic quality and safety of food of animal origin: a) food poisoning and main zoonotic agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites, prions); prevention of the risk of biological contamination of food of animal origin on farm, during transport and at slaughtering; hygiene hypothesis; b) main abiotic contaminants: mycotoxins, persistent organic pollutants, hormonal substances, antibiotics; prevention of the risk of abiotic contamination. The problem of antibiotic resistance and possible alternatives to the use of antibiotics.
2) Composition of foods of animal origin and its effects on human health.
3) Regulations concenrning safety of animal origin foods and official controls.
Prerequisites for admission
At least basic knowledge of animal husbandry.
Teaching methods
Classic frontal lessons, and some lessons open to discussion of scientific papers previously sent by the teacher to the students. Learning visits in the field (livestock farms, slaughterhouses) for a practical view and a better comprehension of what presented in classroom.
Teaching Resources
The minutes of the course and the learning/study material available on ARIEL, for both the parts of the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test (2 hours time) with 2 open questions for each of the two parts of the course, and for the students who have passed the test, an oral exam with different questions on the two parts of the course. The final score is unique and computed as the mean of the scores obtained in the two parts of the course. It is considered both the knowledge of the topics dealt with during the course, and the student's ability to connect in an holistic way the various aspects, also referred to related subjects presented in other courses.
Zootecnia e ambiente
AGR/18 - ANIMAL NUTRITION AND FEEDING - University credits: 0
AGR/19 - ANIMAL SCIENCE - University credits: 0
Field activity: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Zootecnia e sicurezza alimentare
AGR/18 - ANIMAL NUTRITION AND FEEDING - University credits: 0
AGR/19 - ANIMAL SCIENCE - University credits: 0
Field activity: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
On appointment
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali, sez. Zootecnia
by appointment
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Via Celoria 2