The two products that received approval last month, ForPlus and All-G Rich, provide producers a value-added feed supplement intended to complement or replace the use of fishmeal and fish oil in feed for dairy cattle, pigs and laying hens, said Stuart McGregor, Alltech Canada general manager.
“It’s the only heterotrophically grown algae that is 100% sustainable, that is traceable and high quality for the feed industry,” he told FeedNavigator. “It is the very first heterotrophically grown algae registered in Canada for DHA.”
The use of a heterotrophic microalgae in place of fishmeal or fish oil offers producers a more sustainable option for the omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), he said. Previously, it was primarily derived from fishmeal or fish oil.
“Fundamentally the opportunity is there for an economical complete replacement of fishmeal or fish oil for the enrichment of DHA,” he said.
“When we talk about fish oil, which is the most common source of DHA – all of these massive fisheries are having to cut back on the amount of fish [collected] or shut down because they’re taking too many fish out of the sea,” added Nikki Putnam, registered dietitian nutritionist at Alltech.
The products were designed to be used in enrichment programs, where producers are formulating a feed to generate a DHA-rich animal protein like meat, milk or eggs, said McGregor.
“If you buy eggs and they’re omega-3 enriched that can only come from fish oil or fish meal,” he said. “What we’ve been able to do is to put the algae into the poultry diet, and we can use algae rather than fishmeal, and we can deliver the DHA with the minimum impact.”
DHA supplementation is of interest to producers because it is an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential in the body, said Putnam. Supplementing DHA in animal diets allows producers to offer improved nutrition for the consumer.
“We’ve had a ton of interest in Canada,” said Putnam of the launch.
Some producers are looking for ways to be able to say their product is a source of DHA, while others are seeking to design feeds that offer a specific amount of DHA in every egg or 250ml of milk, she said.
“We know how much has to be put in the diet to express that amount in the meat, milk and eggs,” she said. The approved products are not complete feeds, but supplemental ingredients, she added.
Using a feed ingredient to add the DHA also does not change the flavor, odor or consistency of the product being produced, she said.
The move into the Canadian market is an expansion for the products, which have been approved in other countries already, said McGregor. However, the company is planning to continue to expand their registration.
Approval for use in Canada also offers Alltech a way to grow its role in the market, he said. “It opens up new avenues, helping our customers and consumers create high quality products that are sustainable,” he added.
Sustainability and quality control efforts
Currently the algae products are being produced at a company facility in Kentucky as the strain of non-genetically engineered microalgae used does not need sunlight, said McGregor. The method used allows for quality control and traceability.
“We grow ours in stainless steel vessels, which is 100% sterile,” he said. “Your risk for contamination is nil, because you don’t have a bird fly over the tanks – they’re completely enclosed.”
The facility produces about 15,000 tons of algae a year, said Alltech.
Additionally, the production method allows for less land use than in autotrophically produced algae, said Putnam. And it provides a more consistent level of DHA than might be found in fishmeal.
“We guarantee a minimum of 16%,” she said. “We almost always exceed that, and the reason that is, is so we can know how much of the DHA will be expressed in the end product.”