Ingredient fractionation and co-products: Where lies the benefits for the Canadian feed sector?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/vencavolrab
© GettyImages/vencavolrab

Related tags faba beans co-products piglets

High-value, nutrient-dense fractions enriched in starch, protein or fat can cater to animals with high nutritional demands such as piglets and juvenile fish. However, the main focus of ingredient fractionation in Canada is the plant-based food protein market, says an academic.

“The federal Canadian government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Protein Industries Canada – that group is looking to increase the processing capacity for the creation of ingredient fractions across western Canada,”​ said Ruurd Zijlstra, professor of swine and carbohydrate nutrition at the University of Alberta, Canada.

He was speaking to FeedNavigator at IFTC 2022 after he presented on the topic of ingredient fractionation at that event in the Netherlands.

“Protein Industries Canada is also investing in everything that needs to happen on the crop side to produce higher value protein fractions. So then of course I am looking at all of those changes with my animal nutrition eye and realizing that there are some fractions created that will be interesting for use in animals – and I can look at how we can best use them in diets for young pigs, or in pet food or in diets for aquaculture production – essentially for animals with high nutritional demands,”​ said Zijlstra.

Increasing co-products inclusion levels 

Such fractions are too expensive to be included in the diets for animals that have a mature GIT – those animals can consume co-products, an area where R&D work has long been underway in Canada.

“In North America, we were so used to having plentiful supply of feed grains, of corn, wheat, and barley, but that is not the case anymore.”

Drought has been shrinking feed grain supply in Canada, he said. “Whatever has been left of wheat and barley tends to go into human food. That means the animal production industry has to try and get feed grains from elsewhere – so corn is being imported into western Canada from the US. The second thing the feed sector can do, instead of being so reliant on feed grains, is to... look to incorporate more co-products [from industrial processing and biofuel sectors] into the diets.

“Then, of course, the question is what are the consequences of making such dietary changes on carcass weight, carcass quality and reaching a predictable growth performance, getting that solved, and then looking at whether there are any negative effects on product quality or nutrient excretion.”

What needs to be done in terms of feed processing to optimize greater use of co-products?

“Many co-products contain a [high level] of fiber… primarily, we should think about opening up that fiber fraction so that it has less of a negative effect on nutrient digestibility or feed intake.”

Faba bean benefits 

Most pulse grains are seeded with human dietary needs in mind. But faba beans, among the pulse grains, are quite unique as they are being seeded for the feed market, said Zijlstra.

Faba beans are interesting, he continued, as they contain a reasonable amount of starch and protein. “That means that when you have an animal with a mature GIT you can simply grind this pulse grain and include it in their diet as a protein source. We can also then think about what we can do to separate these protein and starch fractions, to create a protein fraction that is more concentrated and [use that] in nursery piglet diets.”

Dry separation techniques such as air classification are particularly useful to produce protein-rich fractions from pulse grains such as field pea or faba beans, he said. The advantages of dry over wet fractionation techniques are lower costs and the absence of effluents. However, wet fractionation techniques may result with fractions with higher protein content, he noted. 

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