Mak­ing a meal from left­overs

Oil palm ker­nel meal feeds the world’s live­stock.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT - By NATALIE HENG star2@thes­

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

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