Alternative sources of locally grown protein for poultry


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Findings of alternative sources of locally grown protein could help the UK poultry industry move away from unsustainable soy imports.

At a time when global soybean supplies appear increasingly fragile, research by farmers has found that sprouting wheat and vetch seeds, grain residues and processed beans all provide good alternative nutrients for monogastrics, and could be a growth within British agriculture. systems.

Research conducted by farmers has found that sprouting wheat and vetch seeds, grain residues, and processed beans have all proven to be good alternatives to soybeans.  Photo: Mark Pasveer

Research conducted by farmers has found that sprouting wheat and vetch seeds, grain residues, and processed beans have all proven to be good alternatives to soybeans. Photo: Mark Pasveer

Currently, most soybeans imported into the UK are used to make animal feed and to feed livestock, but of those imports, two-thirds were found in 2019 to be from sources with potential risk of deforestation, according to the report. UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soybeans.

Current supply chain problems in China and India have pushed soybean prices up 80% this year through June. The findings of the 3-year field laboratory collaboration between farmers and researchers now pave the way for a system based on regional animal feed production and supply. Farmers worked with The Biological Research Center in a field laboratory in collaboration with Innovative farmers.

Valuable locally grown food sources

The field lab looked at 3 possible protein sources:
– Germinate seeds
– Increase in the nutritional value of the beans by heat treatment and husking
– Save grain residues.

All of them have been found to have some value as locally grown food sources. The trials have all been successful in their own ways, said Dr Lindsay Whistance, principal animal husbandry researcher at the Center for Biological Research: “They all highlighted the potential that exists in animal feeds that can be adapted, helping to find solutions to reduce the need to import feed for pigs and poultry.

Germination of vetch for feeding chickens

Mike Mallett, who organically raises 3,000 laying hens in Suffolk, conducted the germination tests at the field lab and said British hens should be fed feed from the UK. “I’ve been trying to get soy out of my chicken feed for 9 years and have grown all kinds of crops including sunflowers and lupines. But our farm was either too cold or maybe too alkaline. Vetch, however, is something our farm can grow well.

An excellent interlayer

Vetch also has the advantage of being useful in his cropping system, Mallett adds, because it fixes more nitrogen than peas and beans, and is an excellent interlayer, especially with oats and also improves structure. of the ground.

However, vetch seeds contain monogastric toxins and tripsonin inhibitors, which affect the frequency and size of spawning. But Mallett found that by germinating the seeds, he could shrink them while preserving other micronutrients and proteins. “It also means I have green forage to feed the hens when they are indoors during the winter when there is less forage outside.”

Scalable technology to produce sprouted seeds

Mallett is currently developing a germinator that can produce hundreds of pounds of sprouted seeds per week, and believes the technology is adaptable to other farms. In the future, he plans to keep his local chicken feed: vetch sprouts, switch to a breed of laying hens that needs less intensive feeding, and grow his own mealworms for more protein.

A need for a more sustainable, stable and secure power source

Jerry Alford, Innovative Farmers field laboratory coordinator and arable land advisor to the Soil association, said that although the soybeans were nutritionally hard to beat and could be grown in the UK, it was unlikely to be available in the volumes needed.

“So it’s about looking at what resources we have, what we can grow and how we can adapt them to produce our own alternative foods, rather than importing them. We desperately need a more sustainable, stable and secure source of food, and the way to achieve this is to grow more in the UK. For organic farmers in particular, the trial results offer a way to achieve 100% organic food without the carbon footprint associated with imported produce, ”Alford added.

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