7 major developments in the animal feed industry

The Eurotier exhibition will feature companies from the international feed industry presenting their innovations and discussing new processes and feeding formulas. Among the biggest trends in animal feed to look out for are the use of algae and insects as novel protein sources, functional feeds, alternative proteins, roughage, and feed additives. Dr Detlef Kampf from DLG e.V. highlights these and other trends in the animal feed sector. The approval of insect meal as animal feed in the EU is also expected to be a timely topic of discussion.

1. Functional Feed

One of the biggest trends in animal feed is the use of ‘functional’ complementary feeds that include special ingredients such as amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, and polyphenolic acids to support animal health, promote intestinal function, and reduce the need for antibiotics. These feeds do not focus primarily on supplying energy and major nutrients to the animal but rather on promoting metabolism and the immune system.

2. Optimised Compound Feed

Nutritionists are focusing on optimising compound feeds to reduce the excess nitrogen and phosphorus in livestock rations which can cause environmental pollution. The protein and phosphorous requirements can be better balanced by optimising the feed protein quality through targeted feed processing, supplementation of free amino acids, and the use of specific enzymes. By meeting the precise nutritional requirements for an animal’s performance level and growth phase and reducing the phosphorous content in the animals’ diet, it can help to manage the levels that will not result in a deficiency.

3. Alternative Protein Feedstuffs

There is a growing need for alternative protein feedstuffs to soybean meal that do not include genetically modified material. Non-GMO rapeseed meal, field beans, peas, lupins or sunflower meal are being researched to assess their impact on animal health, feed intake, efficiency and desired texture and taste characteristics of animal products being produced.

4. Innovative Insect Protein

Research on insect protein as a new protein source for livestock continues due to the increasing focus on ethics of feeding livestock with human-edible ingredients. Insect protein has already been approved in the EU, and initial feeding trials have shown positive results. However, there are still concerns about food safety and hygiene risks that need to be addressed.

5. Water

Water is a crucial nutrient for farm animals and providing adequate amounts of water in appropriate quality is important for their health and performance. It can be regarded as the most important nutrient or feed, and farmers are responsible for ensuring it does not limit animal performance. The required amount of water varies depending on species, performance level, and environmental factors.

6. Roughage Quality

The quality and feed value of coarse feeds like grass or corn silage can vary considerably, and maximising feed quality begins with cultivation planning and optimal harvesting. Additional silage additives can help to improve the fermentation process and maintain quality during storage.

7. Feed Additive Safety

Feed additives are a common practice in the EU livestock industry, but they must pass a rigorous approval process to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Enzymes are commonly used to improve the digestibility of certain ingredients, while probiotics and other products are used to promote gut health.

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