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FeedMileage: Efficient use of feed resources for a sustainable Norwegian food production

Awarded: NOK 40.2 mill.

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2014 - 2021

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FeedMileage is about going further on our own feed resources. The Norwegian livestock industry is heavily reliant on imported protein resources, especially soybean meal (SBM). Greater and more efficient use of local feeds such as rapeseed meal (RSM), field beans and grass silage will improve self-sufficiency of the sector. RSM is abundant, rich in protein, and has a balanced amino acid (AA) profile, but a higher content of fiber and anti-nutrients may adversely affect performance. A meta-analysis using published results from 37 papers showed no differences in growth performance when using RSM in diets for young pigs. Feeding RSM to older pigs gave minor reduction in growth performance. This suggests that up to 30% RSM can be included as a protein source in nutritionally balanced diets for growing-finishing pigs without adverse effects on growth performance. A piglet trial showed that partial replacement of SBM with high-fiber RSM products reduced nutrient digestibility, but a large individual variation in digestibility among pigs was seen. Thus, there is potential to select pigs with higher digestive capacity when feeding high-fiber RSM diets. Feeding RSM altered the gut microbiome compared to SBM, resulting in a healthier gut microbiota profile. A metabolism trial feeding increasing levels of RSM to young pigs, replacing SBM, showed reduced protein and energy digestibility, but no differences in utilization of digested nitrogen (N) or metabolizable energy. Feeding RSM also gave a shift in N excretion from urine to feces and reduced overall NH3 emission from manure. The effect of feeding diets with 20% RSM, replacing SBM, on growth performance was tested in growing-finishing pigs. Feeding RSM reduced growth performance compared to SBM, but carcass quality was unaffected. A large within-group variation in feed intake and growth rate was observed, suggesting differences in capacity to utilize fiber among pigs. RNA sequencing data revealed differences in regulation of key genes involved in carbohydrate, lipid and energy metabolism, muscle tissue development, mitochondrial function and oxidative stress. Thus, the reduced performance of pigs fed the RSM diet could be due to differences in energy metabolism and regulation of growth suppressive signaling and atrophy of skeletal muscles. Some of these genes may be key contributors to variation in feed efficiency traits and can serve as biomarkers for use in future breeding programs. RSM also contains bioactive phytochemicals that could adversely affect metabolism and performance of pigs. Feeding RSM had limited effects on microbial and AA metabolism, but adversely effected redox status. Increased levels of several oxidized metabolites and decreased levels of antioxidants in liver and serum were seen, indicating that RSM disrupted redox balance in pigs. Thus, identifying the causes of reduced redox imbalance, investigating its impact on growth performance, and exploring dietary solutions to solve this will be important in further research on how to use RSM as a feed resource. To improve nutritional value of RSM, we evaluated different processing methods. This included fractionation of RSM by fine grinding in a jet mill or a ball mill, followed by air classification or sieving. This increased the protein content of RSM from 33 to 40% and reduced the fiber content by 25-35%, and increased digestibility of protein compared to a fiber-rich or the original RSM product. Solid state fermentation of RSM using fungi also improved the nutritional value of RSM. Use of field beans as a source of starch and protein was evaluated in diets for broiler chicks. Processing of field beans through deshelling, fine-grinding with a pin mill and air classification gave one product with 58% protein and one with 68% starch. No differences in feed conversion were found when feeding starch from field beans or from wheat, indicating that bean starch was well utilized. Fine grinding or a high degree of starch gelatinization obtained by extrusion processing was efficient to overcome the lower degradation rate and ileal digestibility of bean starch compared to wheat. The bean-protein fraction, however, reduced growth performance compared to SBM as a result of changes in physical pellet quality. Significant reduction in N excretion and CH4 emission without affecting milk yield or quality can be achieved by using NRF cows with higher feed utilization and by reducing protein level in the feed ration. In moderately yielding cows given free access to silage, the content of protein could be reduced to 13% without affecting milk yield or quality. Supplementing live yeast to increase the proportion of silage in the dairy cow ration had no effect on feed utilization. The results show the potential for reducing carbon footprint and N emissions from Norwegian dairy production through increased use of local grass silage and selection for cows with higher ability to utilize feed.

The project has improved the nutritional value of rapeseed meal (RSM) and faba beans (FB) by processing. Local fiber-rich feed resources for pigs supported high growth performance and improved gut health. Phenotypic biomarkers regulating feed intake of the pigs were identified. Extruded diets with starch from FB for broiler chicken gave similar growth performance as starch from wheat. Increased use of local grass silage and selection for cows with higher feed utilization reduced the carbon footprint and N emissions of dairy production. Outcomes: * New methods to improve nutritional value of RSM and FB by processing to facilitate use of local feed resources. * Facilitate increased used of grass silage in rations for cows to reduce carbon footprint and N emission of dairy production. * Identify phenotypic biomarkers in pigs fed local fiber-rich diets that can help identify novel phenotypes and biomarkers associated with feed efficiency traits for future breeding programs.

The world population is predicted to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Climate change could disrupt traditional agriculture practices and food prices are expected to spiral upwards. The Norwegian population is predicted to grow by 20% by 2030, and a similar incre ase in Norwegian agricultural production has been called for while a decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 30% by 2020 has been demanded (Landbruksmeldinga 2012-13; Klimameldinga, 2011-12). A high degree of self-sufficiency is a safeguard against the rising prices of agricultural products, and future animal production should be based on non-food resources. This project aims to improve the efficiency of the use of national resources, improve the total animal production bio-economy and reduce the e nvironmental impact of this production sector. The project will (1) pinpoint the most pressing goals for resource efficiency in the sector for the next two to three decades; (2) develop feed processing technologies that maximise the nutritional value of l ocal feed resources; (3) improve the feed efficiency of cattle, especially when fed more forages, and that of pigs and poultry when fed local feed resources rich in fibre and antinutrients; (4) improve the gut health of these production animals; (5) genet ically adapt the animals to these dietary changes accounting for genotype by feed interactions; and (6) evaluate the impact of the projected improvements on the animal production bio-economy and the environment. A multidisciplinary, international project team has been built that contains expertise on animal nutrition, genetics, and veterinary and bio-economical sciences. It includes relevant industry partners to ensure that the research activities will have a commercial impact. Thus, FeedMilage is well eq uipped to advance the sustainability of the animal production bio-economy.

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