Algae - the new universal feed ingredient?

Algae,or seaweed, are drawing a lot of attention from the scientific and commercialcommunity as a possible future feed ingredient. The concept is promising, butthere is still considerable effort required until algae become a feedcommodity.

The interest on using algae in animal feed is not new, but recently, this interest has literally exploded with many projects worldwide looking into this ingredient as a possible feedstuff.

This focus on this relatively cheap, abundant, and relatively easy to cultivate ingredient (but hardly recognized or understood) is not surprising given the practically prohibiting prices for common cereals and soybeans that continue to affect the global animal production industry.

From a nutritional point of view, algae can contain up to 40 percent crude protein on a dry-matter basis (depending on the species), while containing significant quantities minerals, and vitamins. Of particular interest is the content in minerals, which can be as much as 30 percent, because this can be used with advantage in feed formulation, replacing more expensive trace mineral premixes and phosphate salts.

Nevertheless, like any ingredient, algae do not come without their own problems, in which case the major issue is ‘fiber’ that can be quite high (again, depending on species). Here, however, lies the opportunity for enzyme manufacturers to foresee the future and prepare products suitable to break down the novel fibers encountered in algae.

I believe algae will soon be part of most animal diets worldwide, but how soon is something open to discussion...

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