Protein feed

Europe is currently importing 70% feed protein, exposing itself to increasing competition for protein feed from the global population, whose number by 2050 is expected to exceed 9 billion by the year. Especially developing countries are seeing a huge increase in demand for animal products. Total meat consumption has increased fivefold since the mid-twentieth century.

In Poland, the increase in demand for high-quality concentrated feed, including high-protein feed, is closely correlated with the dynamic development of poultry production, concentration processes and changes in pig feeding technology, and the drive to improve the efficiency of dairy cows. In 2000-2016, the production of live poultry increased more than 3,8 times, and the production of eggs increased by 34%, as a consequence, the production of industrial feed for poultry increased from 2,23 million tonnes in 2000 to 6,27 million tonnes in 2016 r. The increase in this production required a significant increase in the consumption of high-protein raw materials, mainly soybean meal, as it is the only protein feed available on the market that ensures the required protein quality and balance in terms of amino acid content. On the other hand, in complete feeds for pigs, the use of rapeseed feed increased, while in supplementary feeds, due to the required higher protein concentration, more soybean meal is consumed. In Poland, one of the future solutions for reducing the protein deficit and independence from the import of protein feeds are feeds of native origin.

The problem of replacing protein feed components from soybean for rapeseed (production of approx. 1,5 million tonnes - data of the Polish Association of Oil Producers) results from the higher fiber content in rapeseed (approx. 112 g / kg of meal), and slightly lower, in compared to soybean feed, protein content (36-38%). The post-extraction rapeseed feeds produced in Poland come from the varieties of double-improved oilseed rape (so-called "00"), ie with a reduced content of erucic acid and glucosinolates. The main reason for using mainly soybean meal is the lack of reliable knowledge and unfounded fear of worsening production effects among livestock farmers, and above all, pig and cattle farmers. The future is plant post-fermentation protein concentrates obtained as a result of patented production technologies, containing 30-50% of high-value protein. Due to the targeted fermentation of various feed proteins, anti-nutrients are decomposed and the utilization of phosphorus is improved, the pool of available protein in the intestine is increased. Added to this is the probiotic effect of the remaining lactic acid bacteria. An example may be protein concentrates obtained from the post-extraction fermentation of rapeseed, soybean, wheat and potatoes, which are dried after undergoing the fermentation process. Under Polish conditions, fermented rapeseed extracts with a reduced content of harmful compounds, mainly glucosinolates and phytates, seem to be particularly valuable. In addition, fermented meals contain less raw fiber, have a higher biological value of the protein, and higher protein digestibility compared to classic meals. Due to the high content of lactic acid metabolites (e.g. 5% lactic acid), they are an effective stimulator of the bacterial flora of the digestive tract. There are research results confirming the inhibitory effect of digestate meal on the reduction of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract salmonella i E. E. coli coli. Post-fermentation protein concentrates can therefore be an interesting source of valuable protein and other biologically active substances in animal nutrition, as well as supplementing own fodder (grains, beans, potatoes) in the nutrition of farm animals and fish. Insect protein may turn out to be the future. Currently, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 2017/893, the possibility of using insect protein in aquaculture nutrition has become available since 1 July 2017. Legislative work is underway to allow insect protein in poultry and pig nutrition. In order to deal with the growing difficulties of the increasing deficit of protein intended for animal nutrition, it was proposed to use the larvae of several species of flies in the diet of chickens, pigs and fish grown on substrates of organic waste, e.g. manure. Protein-rich insects are a natural component of the diet of many wild fish and poultry. Insect larvae can be grown on a wide variety of waste and by-products, allowing them to recover value from waste materials in agriculture and the food industry. The biological treatment of organic waste is a key concept as the use of insects in feed would not only help reduce Europe's protein deficit, but would also facilitate a significant reduction in waste volume. Insect larvae can reduce the weight of organic waste by 60% in just 10 days. Research has also shown that the use of insect protein in animal feed to supplement traditional plant sources will increase the acreage of agricultural land for direct human consumption. This would improve overall food security. Conservative and outdated European legislation on the use of insects in feed and food is the main obstacle facing potential investors and, consequently, blocking the entry of insect protein on the market. When looking for sustainable and long-term solutions in Europe, we must consider the benefits of introducing insects into animal feed. Currently, a complete replacement of soybean protein with seeds of other legumes is not possible due to the content of anti-nutritive substances in them, reducing production efficiency, as well as the limited acreage of cultivation. At the Institute of Animal Production, research has begun on the possibility of replacing imported soybean meal from a soybean-lupine mixture for broiler chickens, mealworm larvae, wood-eater or silkworm pupae. At the present stage of research, it can be concluded that such a replacement is possible and gives very similar production results.

Other alternatives to soy protein with high potential are algae, which may contain 25-50% protein, currently mainly used for the production of organic fuel. Also water eyelash Lemna, the aquatic plant may be of particular interest as it contains up to 45% protein depending on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment. Its great advantage is its rapid growth, the increase in biomass increases by 50% every 48 hours. Animal nutrition also uses a number of by-products that arise from the processing of agricultural products. From the point of view of supplying the feed industry, however, these protein raw materials are generally of minor importance. These are, among others: by-products of the agri-food industry (fresh and dried beet pulp), by-products of distilleries and breweries (dried stillage (DGGS), spent grain, malt sprouts, fodder yeast), by-products of mills and starch plants ( wheat and rye bran, potato pulp), dairy by-products (buttermilk, skim milk, whey). Summing up, it can be indicated that there are real possibilities of limiting the use of GM soybean meal in animal nutrition by partially replacing it with feed protein from domestic sources, increasing the share of rapeseed, increasing the share of soybean sowing, increasing the acreage of legumes, using insect protein to a greater extent, post-fermentation protein concentrates , by-products of the agri-food industry and aquatic plant proteins.

Author: Marek Pieszka

The article was prepared as part of the ProBio Małopolska project