The feed supplement, Vegain, has been created to work with vegetarian and antibiotic-free diets, said Kip Karges, director of tech services for animal health and nutrition at HJ Baker & Bro. It was designed in response to the move toward antibiotic-free broiler production.
When tested in broilers, the product preforms comparably to a conventional diet that includes animal proteins and added about $0.08 per bird when compared to traditional vegetarian diets based on corn and soybean meal, he told Feed Navigator.
“There is a push right now in the retail sector to supply antibiotic-free chicken protein,” he said. “In order to do that, it doesn’t mean you can’t feed animal protein, but in visiting with folks, it sounds like that was going to be the next step.”
In a recent series of 42-day long feeding trials conducted with Texas A & M University, the supplement used with a vegetarian diet offered the highest return on investment of the tested diets, said Karges. The trials involved 2,520 birds and 14 replications of the trial treatments.
The feed supplement marks a change from the Connecticut-based company’s work with animal-based protein supplements, he said.
But, the product was designed to fill the nutritional gaps that can exist in vegetarian poultry diets, and deliver easily digestible amino acids, he said. When antibiotics are removed from bird production, the diet has to be altered slightly to meet the bird’s needs.
The product comes in meal form and is designed to be added to feed before pelleting, he said. It can be used for the lifespan of a broiler and included at a range of 3% to 12% depending on the nutritional balance of the feed.
To create the product, researchers turned to some ingredients, like soy and wheat isolates, that are more common in human food, he said.
“Any of these protein isolates that are further processed from a cereal grain, that’s fair game,” he said. “If you look on the back of a protein bar, you’ll see the same common ingredients in this product.”
Work started on the protein supplement about 18 months ago, said Karges, as the company became more aware of the consumer demand for birds raised without antibiotics. The goal behind creating the protein supplement was to find a usable, and vegan protein source.
The supplement has been designed for both domestic and international markets, he said. And it may provide a new option for countries where regulations or customs limit the use of animal products in feed.
The product at this time is focused on broilers, he said. However there may be additional versions developed for use with layers or turkeys.
The integrated trade show, set in Atlanta, Georgia is set to have more than 1,200 exhibitors, and officials are predicting more than 28,000 attendees this year. The event is scheduled to run from January 26-28.
The international event combines three trade shows, including the International Poultry Expo, the International Feed Expo and the International meat Expo. This year’s event is being sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) along with the US Poultry and Egg Association (USPOULTRY) and the North American meat Institute (NAMI).