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Feeding Livestock: 4 Novel Feed Ingredients That Make Great Protein Sources

Novel feed ingredients refer to unconventional feed ingredients of plant or animal origin. These ingredients are used in livestock feed as a new source of protein and as an alternative source of fatty acids.

Aarushi Chadha
Egg Powders
Using egg powder in animal feed is gaining traction as it is a nutritious source of protein and energy for young animals

Presently, farmers face the challenge of providing food grain and food products for an ever-growing population while all arable land is expected to decrease. These challenges are driving farmers to take a closer look at the relationship between the environment, the ingredients in their feed, and the very future of food security.

Novel feed ingredients refer to unconventional feedstuffs of plant or animal origin that are used to provide livestock with a sustainable protein source that is also rich in essential nutrients, such as omega-3 long-chain fatty acids. Novel feed ingredients have a lower carbon footprint than vegetable proteins that are grown specifically for animal feed.

It also tends to reduce the pressure on wild fisheries by using animal proteins instead of fish meals. Novel feed ingredients tend to be a source of sustainable protein that is easy to digest and acts as a sustainable alternative for antibiotics and zinc oxide in animal feed. The most common sources of vegetable protein alternatives that are also sustainable are plasma powder, hemoglobin powder, egg powder, single-cell protein, and pea protein.

Plasma powder- Plasma powder is a highly digestible animal protein source that is used to improve feed palatability and gut health in livestock. Plasma powder is rich in antibodies and bio-active molecules that are a great replacement for prophylactic antibodies and zinc oxide in livestock feed. Plasma powder stimulates gut maturation and strengthens the intestinal barrier, along with improving growth performance. Plasma powder is better than other binders such as wheat starch and guar gum because it is a great source of protein, is made from natural ingredients, and enhances the palatability of the feed.

Insects- New studies show that certain insects are highly suitable to be used as feed due to their high nutritional value and because they are naturally a part of some livestock diets. Insect feed is a sustainable source of protein, as insects are reared on waste and streams and can generate diversified livelihood incomes. Insect feeds can also increase food security as it reduces competition between energy and food crops.

It can also improve waste management infrastructure in middle and low-income countries and has reproductive capacities. The target livestock for insects is mainly fish, poultry, and pigs as insects, such as mealworms, silkworms, housefly maggots, and grasshoppers are already present in their diets. Rearing insects for feed purposes is also expected to have socio-economic benefits such as providing women with jobs.  

Egg powder- Using egg powder in animal feed is gaining traction as it is a nutritious source of protein and energy for young animals. Studies show that adding egg powder to the feed of young animals, such as calves, can boost their immunity and also provide them with lecithin, an emulsifier that improves digestion and increases milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Egg powder is a sustainable alternative to vegetable protein in livestock feed as it has a long shelf-life, has a high concentration of protein, and reduces transport and storage costs.

Seaweeds- Seaweeds colonize aquatic habitats and are used in livestock feed by coastal populations. Seaweeds tend to be rich in potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, along with having traces of micronutrients such as iron, manganese, copper, cobalt, zinc, and selenium.

Seaweed is also able to use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen. Seaweed and algae have a relatively high protein content compared to soy flour, wheat, and rice, and have a higher proportion of amino acids. It is a great alternative to reduce or replace antibiotics in livestock diets as we. Studies show that seaweed has great potential as animal feed.

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