Writing in its patent filing, the Australian agricultural firm said: “One problem with known animal feeds is they are formed from feedstuffs that have other uses, including in the human feed chain - for example, grains including maize, soybean, wheat, oats, barley and rice - and/or they add substantially to the cost of producing the animal feed.
“There is thus a need to provide a feed that is economical to produce and/or provides an alternative to existing animal feeds.”
Using saltbush, it said, made use of a widely available native shrub that was not typically included in the human diet.
Economical and nutrient-dense
Wilson Pastoral said both plants grew in arid and semi-arid habitats on “less productive saline areas” and had historically been used as forage feeds for sheep during autumn months when annual pastures were dead and of poor nutritional value.
“The plants require no fertiliser or chemicals and can be certified organic. Thus, the present invention provides a means for producing feed formulations from plant materials grown on less arable land. The saltbush and bluebush plant material in the present feed formulations replace more expensive inputs in known stock feed pellets such as Lucerne and clover hay.”
High in crude protein and vitamin E, it said the feed could be formulated using any part of the plant – from leaves to stems – and could contain up to 30% crude protein.
The final feed product, it said, could be made into several forms, including pellets, dry feed, meal, grains and powder for a range of animals like sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry.
Field to feed
Wilson Pastoral said the native shrubs just had to be cut and dried before being comminuted (reduced to minute particles) by a shredder, dicer or chopper.
It suggested the comminuted shrub form up to 60% of the feed formulation, leaving space for an energy component or carbohydrate source.
Regular starches and sugars could be added for energy and these, it said, would also be advantageous for binding in pellet form. Grains like barley, oat and wheat straw could also be used and would aid digestion.
Added oils could also be beneficial in the final feed product given saltbush was so high in vitamin E, as it aided absorption and transportation of the fat-soluble vitamin, said the company.
Fermentation using enzymes could also be considered should the feed manufacturer wish to improve the overall nutritional value of the final product.
“The nature and proportion of the components in the solid feed formulation depend on many factors, for example, the type of animal, the age of the animal, nutritional requirements of the animal, individual feed producer preference and the cost of ingredients,” Wilson Pastoral wrote.
Source: WIPO Publication No. 20170049130
Published: February 2, 2017. Filed: January 29, 2015.
Title: “Animal Feed”
Authors: Wilson Pastoral Australia PTY Ltd - BL. Wilson and JL. Wilson