Chr. Hansen Animal Health and Denmark's University of Aarhus have partnered to lead a project focusing on nitrogen loss as a result of too much protein in pig feed.

The project's goal is to develop special Bacillus subtilis strains to reduce the protein content in pigs' feed, which in turn could reduce the loss of nitrogen to the environment by 10% annually. "Today pigs’ feed contains large amounts of protein to ensure that the pigs get the essential amino acids," said Benedicte Flambard, director of innovation, human and animal health with Chr. Hansen. "However, high protein content in the feed also involves loss of nitrogen as the pigs cannot utilize all the nitrogen supplied to them. This may result in nitrogen wash out to lakes and streams with subsequent negative effects on animals and groundwater due to oxygen depletion." 

As a side benefit, the added bacteria will have a stabilizing effect on the intestinal flora of the pigs, which will strengthen their immune systems. "High protein content in the feed is likely to increase the risk of diarrhea and thus a higher consumption of antibiotics," said Flambard.

The three-year project has received €1 million in public research funds from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.