EU search for al­ter­na­tives to soya in pig di­ets

Irish Examiner - Farming - - TECHNOLOGY FOCUS - Stephen Cado­gan

The EU Com­mis­sion is con­cerned about the lack of al­ter­na­tive in­gre­di­ents to soya for pig diet pe­cially with in­creases ex­pected in soya prices. Pro­duc­tion of soya is lim­ited in the EU, which de­pends mostly on im­port­ing pro­tein sup­plies.

Edgar Gar­cia Man­zanilla, the re­cently ap­pointed Head of the Tea­gasc Pig De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment, is part of the EU’s new EIP-AGRI fo­cus group to study the pro­tein is­sue.

He says there are hun­dreds of ma­te­ri­als that could be used as feed­stuffs for pigs di­rectly or af­ter some pro­cess­ing. How­ever, Ire­land’s geo­graphic lo­ca­tion makes it more chal­leng­ing for pig pro­duc­ers here to avail of these al­ter­na­tive feed­stuffs, com­pared to their con­ti­nen­tal col­leagues.

Not many in­gre­di­ents avail­able in Irel d ful­fil the re­quire­ments of mod­er­ate to high pro­tein con­tent, good di­gestibil­ity and amino acid pro­file, low anti-nu­tri­tional fac­tors, and com­pet­i­tive price.

In­dus­try resid­u­als and for­mer food

This is prob­a­bly the most re­al­is­tic cat­e­gory for most coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ire­land. The in­gre­di­ents avail­able vary by re­gion.

A good ex­am­ple is FeedValid, a Dutch com­pany de­vel­op­ing tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce good qual­ity feed­stuffs from in­dus­try by-prod­ucts (­gre­di­ents). His­tor­i­cally, whey was the main by-prod­uct avail­able in Ire­land, but its in­creased use for hu­man foods has lim­ited its avail­abil­ity. Bak­ery prod­ucts, sweets, snacks or hor­ti­cul­tural prod­ucts may be avail­able, but are mostly low in pro­tein and rich in en­ergy. Prob­a­bly the best al­ter­na­tive in Ire­land, with the in­crease of whiskey dist leries and the beer in­dus­try, are brew­ery prod­ucts that have higher pro­tein con­tent. Many of these are al­ready used re­gion­ally, but there is still great po­ten­tial to re­fine the pro­cesses and in­crease use.

A good Ir­ish ex­am­ple of the prod­ucts ob­tained from re­cy­cling can be found in the mill­stream­re­cy­ web­site.

Aquatic biomass and sin­gle cell pro­tein

Aquatic biomass in­cludes a range of plant and mi­cro and macro al­gae species, like duck­weed, with high pro­tein lev­els (50-60%), amino acid pro­files sim­i­lar to soya bean meal, and in­ter­est­ing con­tents in omega-3 fatty acids and mi­cronu­tri­ents.

Quite a few projects are in­ves­ti­gat­ing these in­gre­di­ents in the EU.

Full scale de­vel­op­ment is ex­pected to take 5-10 years. Tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties in­clude al­gae need­ing heat to grow, and need­ing a rel­a­tively con­stant sup­ply of nu­tri­ents. The ideal sit­u­a­tion would be to ob­tain the heat and nu­tri­ents from pig farms, thus re­cy­cling some of the en­ergy and waste of the farm. Al­gae could thus be a way to turn waste into feed com­po­nents.

Sim­i­larly, we can use bac­te­ria of fungi to re­cy­cle waste prod­ucts, says Edgar Gar­cia Man­zanilla of Tea­gasc. Sin­gle cell prot n is a sim­ple con­cept.

From very dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als, you find a way to get nu­tri­ents that you feed to a bac­te­ria or fungi pop­u­la­tion, and they pro­duce feed. The pro­tein con­tent of such prod­ucts is very vari­able, from 10% to 80%, but they gen­er­ally have good amino acid pro­files.

Cur­rently, Nor­way and Fin­land are work­ing on us­ing wood shav­ings to ex­tract glu­cose, feed it to bac­te­ria, and pro­duce SCP.


“Some are con­vinced in­sects are the food and feed­stuff of the fu­ture; some think it will not be a ma­jor op­tion. “Those who be­lieve in it are in­vest­ing sig­nif­i­cant time and money, such as Daniel Murta (www.en­ who pre­sented to our EIP-AGRI pro­tein fo­cus group. “Us­ing in­sects, he has cre­ated a re­cy­cling plant in Por­tu­gal.

“He also ex­plained the huge in­ter­est McDon­alds have shown in in­sects as an al­ter­na­tive an­i­mal feed. Among the most com­monly used in­sects are black sol­dier fly, yel­low mealworm, and lesser mealworm, with pro­tein con­tents of 40-60%, and amino acid prof es com­pa­ra­ble to soya bean meal. With these an­i­mals be­ing very de­pen­dent on heat to grow, it does not seem like a good al­ter­na­tive for Ire­land, but it may be avail­able at some point as an in­gre­di­ent pro­duced in warmer cli­mates.

Be proac­tive

Although there are Ir­ish pig farm­ers us­ing some of the al­ter­na­tive in­gre­di­ents men­tioned here, Edgar Gar­cia Man­zanilla said Ir­ish farm­ers mostly out­source for­mu­la­tion of pig di­ets and use what­ever in­gre­di­ents are avail­able. In gen­eral, these are in­gre­di­ents avail­able in large amounts like soya , wheat, or bar­ley.

“There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for cost-ef­fec­tive use of new in­gre­di­ents on a more re­gional ba­sis. “How­ever this use may re­quire some re­search and de­vel­op­ment.”

This is very com­mon in some EU coun­tries like the Nether­lands or Ger­many, and the EU has now made fund­ing avail­able to de­velop such ini­tia­tives in all EU coun­tries through the ru­ral de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

“You just need the idea, the right part­ners, and a lit­tle bit of work.”

(Some ex­am­ples are at­cul­ture/en/my-eip-agri/op­er­a­tional-groups).

A bird feed­ing on duck­weed: it is one of aquatic biomass plant and mi­cro and macro-al­gae species which re­searchers are look­ing at in the EU’s search for al­ter­na­tive in­gre­di­ents to soya for pig di­ets.

Tea­gasc has ap­pointed Edgar Gar­cia Man­zanilla, above, as Head of the Pig De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment and Ciaran Car­roll as Head of Knowl­edge Trans­fer in the De­part­ment.

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