“One of the main drivers of the center, will falls under the research arm of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), is the sourcing of nutritional ingredients that will work across pigs and poultry, and that could also be used in feed for another monogastric species, fish,” said Dr Jos Houdijk, who is heading up the new center.
The research facility is, in fact, a virtual one in that the project work on pigs is being carried out at the Edinburgh campus and the equivalent on poultry is being undertaken at SRUC facilities near Ayr. “But the cross species approach links the two establishments,” said Houdijk.
Faba bean fractions
He told us the research on faba beans, which is being funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), is well underway.
The TSB backed project consortium involves Scottish animal and fish feed industry partners as well as seed grower representatives.
The teams have already generated faba bean protein fractions for use in salmon fish feed and a starch rich co-product for use in pig and poultry diets by means of dry protein separation technology.
“Interim results of this project, which is set to run until mid-2016, will be presented next April at the annual meeting of the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS).
We have found clear indications that both the protein component and the co-product of faba beans have an energy value and digestibility on par with wheat, so they could be exploited commercially for use as soymeal replacers in feed for those species,” said Houdijk.
High performing rapeseed meal for pigs and poultry
The animal nutritionist said researchers at the center are also looking to identify which rapeseed types would create meals with a high nutritional value for pigs and poultry.
This initiative, he said, is being carried out under the auspices of the feed research program at the UK’s Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA).
“Most rapeseed growers cultivate the crop with only oil yield and quality in mind. They are not focused on the benefits for the feed sector. The project goal is to determine which varieties also generate the best performing meal for monogastrics and then the next job is to convince the farmers of the wider benefits of growing those particular rapeseed types,” said Houdijk.
The pig and poultry feed specialist said the center will be continuously on the lookout for funding from a myriad of sources.
“We certainly don’t have a pot of money that we can dip into over the next five years. Investment may come directly from industrial partners, who approach us with specific tasks, we may look to get funding from research councils that fund strategic type projects or we could approach the TSB again once the Faba bean work is completed.
One of the strengths of the center though is the fact that it is partly based in Edinburgh, which is already home to a strong cohort of animal nutrition and health focused scientific community – a knowledge base that we can leverage,” added Houdijk.
He said gut health is critical when it comes to pigs and poultry efficiently processing food and effectively resisting disease, and there are many questions still to be answered when it comes to balancing these two priorities under the overall objective to increase sustainability of animal production systems. “Our center will help facilitate joint research in this area in the years ahead," he added.