MODNUT: A review of what took place during this very interesting workshop



Mathematical modeling is a technique essential to understand intricate problems or situations like we observe in animal nutrition. When multiple factors can affect a response in so many different ways, it is difficult to estimate the responses. Modeling tries to simplify reality to integrate the main interactions. It has been used in animal nutrition for over 100 years to determine nutritional requirements for almost all species, create decision support systems to make decisions, teach, and integrate scientific information. However, despite its importance and application, currently, there are few learning opportunities to receive training in modeling principles in animal nutrition.

The MODNUT workshops started in 1979 when animal researchers and mathematical modelers worldwide
proposed a workshop to discuss the integration of their respective fields and share their most recent findings. Thus,
a premier event named the “Workshop on Modeling Nutrition Digestion and Utilization in Farm Animals” (MODNUT) was held in Hurley, the United Kingdom.

Five years later, Drs. Lee Baldwin and Tony Bywater coordinated the second MODNUT in Davis, California. Since then, researchers from all across the globe have gathered quinquennially at this very fruitful scientific forum to discuss the application of modeling across multiple disciplines of animal science.

Since it started, MODNUT has been held across the world in locations such as:

  • New Zealand in 1989; coordinated by
    Drs. Bruce Robson and Dennis Poppi
  • Denmark, 1994; coordinated by Dr.
    Allan Danfaer
  • South Africa, 1999; coordinated by
    Dr. F. Richardson
  • Netherlands, 2004; coordinated by
    Drs. Jan Dijkstra, André Bannink and
    Walter Gerrits
  • France, 2009; coordinated by Dr.
    Daniel Sauvant
  • Australia, 2014; coordinated by Dr.
    Dennis Poppi
  • Brazil, 2019; coordinated by Dr. Izabel Teixeira.

From September 18th to 21st, the 10th MODNUT was held in Alghero, Sardinia, Italy, organized by Dr. Antonello Cannas. A total of 112 participants gathered in Sardinia, while 35 were online, from those participants, 32% were students. Participants came from 19 countries, including Italy (48%), the United States (29%), France (11%), Canada (11%), and Brazil (11%).

The program included lectures, short communications, poster presentations, networking activities, and a formal workshop. Ninety-eight abstracts were received, and a Supplement of the the Peer-reviewed and Indexed Journal Animal is being prepared with the papers presented.

The workshop is divided into six sessions grouped by monogastric, ruminants, or strategic topics. Each session has one invited presentation and short communications selected for each topic. Great amount of interesting information for all session was also presented as posters.


Precisionfeeding-AlineremusThe first session was related to nutrient intake, digestion, utilization, and metabolism.Dr. Aline Remus delivered the main presentation from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Dr. Remus presented One size does not fit all: opportunities and challenges in models applied to sustainable pig precision nutrition.



The following short communications were related:



The second session, Livestock and the environment related to Ruminants, was introduced with the talk The Ruminant Farm Systems Project presented by Dr. Kristan Reed from Cornell University. The short communications included:

The third session was related to the future of modeling feeding systems. Dr. Mark Hanigan from Virginia Tech gave the introductory presentation Lessons for the development of the NASEM 2021 dairy protein model. The short communications were:


The fourth session was related to Nutrient intake, digestion, utilization, and metabolism in Ruminants. Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Tamayo from Agro Paris Tech presented Towards the next generation of rumen microbiome models for enhancing predictive power and guiding sustainable production strategies. Short communications were:

The fifth session was on Modeling methodology and contaminations. Dr. Luis Tedeschi gave the invited presentation Building mathematical models with confidence by choosing the appropriate modeling paradigm. The short communications selected for oral presentations were:

The sixth session was related to Livestock and the environment, monogastric. The invited presentation was Modelling nutrition and management in swine production systems to reduce their environmental impacts from a life cycle perspective, presented by Dr. Florence Garcia-Launay from PEGASE INRAE. Three short communications were discussed in this session:

A satellite course was offered. The first session of the Course was on the modeling process in nutrition from mind to math. This included talks on Non-linear thinking; Credibility, evaluation, and testing of dynamic simulation models; Integrating real-time precision livestock data into dynamic models using R. The second part was Methodology to develop nutritional models. It included Non-linear parameter estimation with SAS and R, Statistical graphics, interactive visualization, and computer vision in animal science.  

The next MODNUT is expected to be held in Rostock, Germany in 2025 together with the ISEP. We hope the interest in learning and applying modeling techniques and employing models in animal nutrition will increase in the following years. The application of big data and data analytics should boost and enhance modeling, integrating mechanistic models with data generated in commercial operations.


Source: This report was drafted by Edgar O. Oviedo-Rondón. Co-corresponding author for NutriNews International. Professor of Broiler Nutrition and Management at the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University.


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