Making a meal from leftovers
Oil palm kernel meal feeds the world’s livestock.
THE OIL palm is known for many things. Cooking oils, cosmetics, oleochemicals and biodiesels are what most people will come up with, if you ask them how the crop is used after harvesting. Save for people in the industry, few are aware how much value there is in oil palm waste.
Fruit from the oil palm tree has an oily outer layer and a single seed within, both of which contain commercially valuable oil.
About 98.8% of the value in oil palm comes from oil products, including palm oil, oleochemicals, palm kernel oil, finished products and biodiesel.
The remaining 1.2% of the value found in the plant’s by-products however, are not to be scoffed at.
One by-product of the industry is palm kernel meal. This is the pulpy mass left over after oil has been extracted from palm kernel seeds.
Every year, over seven million tonnes of the stuff is dried and processed, ending up as feed stock for cattle, mostly in New Zealand and Europe.
The biggest importer is the European Union, which took in about 2.63 million tonnes in 2013, followed by New Zealand with 1.52 million tonnes.
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) explains that this substance is packed with minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates.
It is sold as a feed supplement, mixed in with other stock feeds, and has been successfully used to feed freshwater fish, cattle, sheep, swine, as well as broiler and layer chickens.
Cattle, which have four chambered stomachs, are particularly suited to the meal due to their ability to digest its high starch, sugar and cellulose content.
In monogastric animals such as the African catfish or layer chickens, palm kernel meal can be used to make up about 20% to 30% of the animal’s diet.
In beef cattle, palm kernel meal can constitute up to 80% of the diet and for dairy cattle, 50%.
This makes the dairy industry a big customer of Malaysia’s palm kernel meal.
One of the largest importers is New Zealand which accounts for about a third of global milk exports. In 2013, the country which is home to more cows than it is to people, shipped in about 1.52 million tonnes of palm kernel meal.
Palm kernel meal is an important source of supplementary stock feed to grass and hay for dairy cattle, especially in drought-affected areas.
As a country that is hugely reliant on its dairy industry, New Zealand places biosecurity as a top priority.
In response to such concerns, risk assessments conducted by its Ministry of Primary Industries have shown that palm kernel expeller (a term used interchangeably with palm kernel meal) is not a natural host for potentially worrying pathogens, such as the foot and mouth disease virus.
Besides, import conditions
Food for cattle: Calves in a dairy
farm in new Zealand, which imported 1.52 million tonnes of palm kernel meal in 2013 as supplementary feed. — aFP