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Effective Feed Protein Management

07 April 2021

Proteins are a critical constituent of animal diets, and have a wide range of both nutritional and biological functions. Nutritionally, they are essential sources of amino acids and can also provide energy. They have many biological effects on amino acid, glucose, lipid and bone metabolism, on blood pressure, immune function, food intake and body weight. Bioactive peptides influence mechanical, hormonal and neuroendocrine functions of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and modify the microbiome. However, the current practice of feed formulation for farm animals largely ignores the bioactive properties of proteins that can be important for animal health and performance. The dietary protein content in animal feeds is frequently considered as simply a source of amino acids. The dietary protein content of commercial animal feeds also has two further significant consequences for animal production. Firstly, protein is an expensive feed ingredient and secondly it is a major contributor to environmental pollution. Therefore, both nutritionally and economically, effective feed protein management is essential.

The demand for feed protein on a worldwide basis is very large. It was estimated to be worth USD 150 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to USD 220 billion by 2026. There are three possible sources of animal feed proteins, animals, plants and insects. However, the major source of feed proteins is of plant origin, mainly soyabeans, which is more than one half of total oilseed meal production. The EU consumes about 15% of global oilseed meals in animal feeds. However, only 27% of EU consumption is actually produced within the EU. This is certainly an incentive to stimulate EU production of feed protein sources. Although oilseeds represent the major source of feed proteins in recent years another plant protein source has appeared, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). This is a co-product from the bioethanol industry and is derived, from maize, or wheat. Processed animal proteins and insects are alternative feed protein resources but have a very restricted use in the EU. Modern animal nutrition is totally dependent upon soyabean meal as the sole major protein source.

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