The 51st SASAS Congress with the theme “Managing the ecological footprint of livestock through efficient production” are held from 10 to 12 June 2019 at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. Major challenges are associated with climate change and the environmental impact of the agricultural sector. Concerns are frequently raised about the role of modern technology in animal production, welfare and ethical treatment of animals, the degradation of natural vegetation and loss in biodiversity, use of water in a water-scarce country, impact of livestock products on human health, and more recently - the contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. While these aspects might shed a “long shadow” on livestock production, it is indisputably clear that the world will need almost double the current food supply by 2050 to feed the ever increasing human population. This improved production outputs needs to be achieved by using less land, water and available energy, while ensuring that the degradation and pollution of natural resources are limited. The Agriculture sector must thus comply with a phenomenon called the “Great Balancing Act” by supporting further economic development and uplifting the nutritional status of approximately 100 million undernourished people in the Southern African Development Community (SADEC). Given these multi-disciplinary challenges within the Agricultural industry, it is clear that a scientific approach would be the only viable option to improve the efficiency of livestock production. The theme of the congress therefore aims to address these effects within welfare, ethical and climate constraints.

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