With all of the concerns about sustainability and the future of our human and animal population, it’s no surprise we are starting to look at alternative feed solutions for animals. Chickens, cattle, pigs, and other farm animals could all benefit from alternative feed, which offers advantages to both the animals themselves and the environment. As the name suggests, alternative feed is any type of feed that is not considered the typical solution for animals. This could be given to animals for environmental, sustainability, or health reasons. As our population continues to grow, we need to find solutions that are more sustainable for feeding animals.
To help you learn more about alternative feed, today we’re going to share our complete guide to this topic. No matter what type of animals you look after, there are likely to be more alternative feed solutions on the market over upcoming years. You’ll find that as these solutions become more mainstream, they’ll both be easier to purchase and more affordable. This is just one way that farmers can help to make a difference to the world around them while still offering the animals they have the quality of life they deserve.
What Are Alternative Feed Ingredients?
When discussing the term alternative feed, there are many different types of feed that we could rely on. Insect proteins, single cell proteins, and algae proteins are the most common types of alternative feed, which are still continuing to increase in popularity and availability. Novel proteins are new foods, which weren’t typically sold on the market before a certain time in Europe or the US. In the EU, novel foods are considered to be any type of food that humans didn’t widely consume before 15 May 1997. Many of these foods are also suitable for animals and could be a could solution for some of the issues we face today within the world.
Novel food is a very varied area, which includes innovative food and foods that are made with new technology or creation processes. This could also be a type of food that was previously not eaten in the EU or a specific country but was already readily accepted elsewhere in the world. There are regulations in place to ensure novel foods are suitable for human and animal consumption. They still need to be governed to ensure they are safe to eat, but also that they will provide individuals with the nutrients to thrive. Farmers are looking for alternative feed options that will help to cut costs for their expenses. At the current time, maize and soybean prices have increased dramatically. This has been very problematic for farmers who are struggling to get back on track after the recent pandemic.
There are many reasons why novel foods are becoming more readily accepted by farmers. Most foods of both animal and plant origin have already been tested as feed ingredients by now, but we do see new ingredients appear from time to time. The current climate crisis has brought to our attention the need for us to find new solutions for the current feed, which is one of the causes of some of the pollution and environmental concerns we see today. The sooner that farmers become more accepting of these new and innovative food sources, the more likely we’ll be able to work together to keep our animal and human population healthy and safe in years to come. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular novel proteins, which are insect proteins and algae proteins for animal feed.
Insect proteins are another up-and-coming type of alternative feed. As you can probably guess, this is a type of protein that is made from insects. Insects for animal feed are quicker and easier to grow than other types of meat while still offering an excellent source of protein for animals of many different species. Instead of relying on other food sources which might not have clear nutritional values, there’s already been a lot of research into this area and the benefits of insect proteins. The main concern within this area is that insects are still not readily accepted by humans as a type of animal feed. Of course, animals naturally eat insects in their everyday lives, so animals are far less likely to face any concerns in regards to eating insects.
Black soldier flies and crickets are two great examples of insects which could be consumed as a type of alternative protein feed. They are rich in protein, competing with food such as meat and eggs for the same amount of protein per serving. Insects are looking to be a valuable type of protein for future generations. We are quickly running out of land to be able to grow protein sources. Without this land, we will be unable to offer animals the same food in the future, which is why it’s critical to find a solution now. The great thing about insect-based protein is that it can very quickly be grown and replaced. The eggs of most insects hatch very quickly, and then they grow into larvae. These larvae then feed off the organic waste, which can reduce the food that’s used to create this alternative feed.
Insect protein has a high level of protein but is also rich in amino acids. One of the other good things about this process is that the residue is then used as fertilizer. This means the environmental impact of growing this alternative feed source is much lower than you’d expect compared to other feed options. This is one of the top reasons we are seeing more research into this area. In the future, we expect insect protein to become a much more readily accepted type of food for animals such as chickens and cattle.
Algae is another protein-rich alternative food solution. It’s a much more sustainable source of protein than meat and eggs for both humans and animals. There are millions of species of algae that could be used for feed, but there are specific types of algae already widely available on the market. They can be used for both animal and human feed, with blue-green and green algae becoming increasingly added to feed products. These types of algae have an incredible forty to sixty percent protein with a high amino acid count. They offer many nutritional benefits to animals and will help your animals to lead a healthy and long life.
Similar to insect proteins, algae are very quick and easy to grow and cultivate. Many companies are researching the benefits of algae as a protein source, and it has many different applications for animal consumption. Microalgae are single-cell proteins for animal feed, which include chlorella and spirulina. Blue-green algae are one of the most common types of microalgae, which can be grown and harvested from freshwater or marine environments. They are often sold as a novel protein for animal feed due to the high amount of protein in each portion. Chlorella is another single-cell protein, which has up to thirteen different species to choose from. It is even believed to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which could assist animals who are struggling with various medical conditions.
Seaweed is usually the first type of algae that comes to mind when discussing algae proteins. Macroalgae, which we usually call seaweed, is a type of marine algae that can be seen by the human eye. While this type of algae has commonly been consumed within the Asian diet for many years, it’s now being enjoyed more often by animals. This type of algae is once again rich in protein and can be found in a range of shades, including green, blue, red, and brown. It’s a much more sustainable solution for animal feed and will soon become added to animal feed mixtures as companies and farmers become more aware of its many benefits.
Alternative Feed for Chickens
When discussing the alternative food movement, a type of animal that farmers are looking to reduce feed costs for are chickens. The increasing costs of feed for chicken over the last years has gone beyond what seems reasonable for many farmers. Ingredients such as corn, soybean meal, and vitamins are now too costly to make looking after high quantities of these animals realistic. Chickens are not the most profitable of animals to keep for many farmers, and so this issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Of course, farmers should still work to give their chickens the best quality of life possible, to help them thrive and grow for their intended use.
The good news for chicken farmers is that offering your chickens a high-quality feed doesn’t have to break the bank. Some farmers are opting to make their own feed, which can be much more cost-effective than purchasing endless bags of feed. However, making your own feed does come with the risk of not offering your chickens the required nutrients and vitamins.
A high-quality 16 percent protein layer feed with a calcium supplement is the ideal chicken feed for laying hens. For younger chicks under the age of 16 weeks, you need to aim for an 18% chick starter. For that reason, testing our insect proteins or novel foods might not be a good idea until they are past this age. At that point, you can feel more confident in testing new food solutions. Make sure any new feed you try does have the required vitamins and minerals. Otherwise, you’ll find that this might be detrimental to their health and not offer consistent egg layers in the future.
The good news for chicken owners and farmers is that you don’t have to buy traditional chicken feed in order to feed your animals a balanced diet. However, one of the best options is learning how to raise mealworms or black soldier fly larvae yourself. When you learn more about these insects and the benefits they offer to chickens, this is truly one of the best options for their long-term health and wellbeing. You’ll find that it’s both a sustainable and cost-effective solution as well, which you can try and grow from the comfort of your own farm. If you are looking to live off your own land and reduce your consumption, you’ll find waste is dramatically decreased when you start raising insects.
Chickens naturally enjoy eating both dead and alive insects, and it’s part of their nature to enjoy this type of feed. While many people are unsure about testing out alternative feed solutions, you’ll find they enjoy both the texture and taste of most insects. You could also try adding hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or wheat seeds to their foods, which they’ll enjoy picking at.
Another type of insect we’d recommend looking into is crickets. These are now becoming a popular protein source. Worms are also naturally part of a chicken’s diet, so we expect these to become a popular alternative feed in the future. When chickens are left alone in the wild, they hunt for insects, including slugs, grubs, and earthworms. This is a cost-effective solution that replicates the food they enjoy in their natural habitat. It can help them to connect with nature once again, no matter how you choose to raise your animals.
One thing to consider when feeding your chickens alternative feed is to ensure that you are still offering them a balanced diet. There are some foods and ingredients, which can be far more harmful than good to chickens. This could make your chicken sick and undo the good work you are aiming to do when you opt for alternative feed solutions.
To ensure your chickens get the right vitamins and minerals with your new alternative feed for chickens, make sure you offer them food that contains vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. Also, look for foods with biotin, riboflavin, choline, folic acid, and niacin. Minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, can help your flock to produce good eggshells and keep them thriving and strong for many years to come.
Alternative Feed For Cattle
In a similar manner to feeding chickens, you might be considering sustainable alternative feed for cattle. No matter how many cattle you have, changing their diet can offer a significant improvement to your carbon footprint. As with alternative feeds for chicken, you need to make sure you are offering your cattle the right diet to keep them strong and healthy. Alternative cattle feed will often include novel foods, single cell proteins, insect proteins, and algae proteins, all of which can provide your cattle with the required proteins to keep them fit and strong. These alternative feeding methods can not only help to reduce your impact on the environment, but they can also help to reduce feed costs with the current concerns about feeding cattle and other animals.
When looking at what are alternative feed ingredients for cattle, you’ll find that algae have many great benefits for animal feed formulations. They are a valuable nutrient source, thanks to their composition of polysaccharides and fatty and amino acids. Studies suggest that they can be used to improve the overall health of your cattle, improving growth performance and product quality when it comes to meat. These studies have been conducted on a variety of animals, including chickens and pigs. While algae are still in the early stages of being used for cattle feed, you’ll find that it’s certainly something to consider when replacing your current feed.
Studies suggest that adding seaweed to cattle feed can also help to reduce bovine methane. This is a huge concern for our environment, and you’ll find that changing their diet can help to reduce the amount of gas that’s released into the air. While some studies suggest more of the human population moving over to a vegan diet, we know this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Instead, looking at ways to feed your cattle a greener diet can try to combat the concerns about beef production. Many of the top fast-food chains are looking to serve green beef products, and you’ll find that using alternative feeds for beef cattle could be a way to add this label to products in the future.
More research is certainly needed into the link between seaweed and the reduction of methane emissions. These studies are often done on a smaller scale, but as technology improves, there is the potential to test this theory on a much greater level. With 1.5 billion cows around the world, and 100 million cows residing in the US alone, making these small changes would certainly look to have a huge impact on the planet. Feedlots are the most practical application of algae and alternative feed for cattle; however, this is where the least change is needed to protect the planet. This is the place where cattle are in the final stage of their life and are crowded into cramped living conditions for a few months.
On feedlots, studies show that there is less of a methane issue, especially when compared to earlier on in their lives. Therefore, it’s during the first year or two of the cattle’s lives that we need to be more conscious about what they are consuming. The methane that’s released into the atmosphere comes from the cattle’s gut microbiome. It’s a result of the gut breaking down indigestible foods, such as grass and leaves, which they eat in the pastures. This is rarely an issue from corn and soy in feedlots, so the concern isn’t so much to replace this feed.
The earlier cattle can be offered an alternative feed solution, the more likely we’ll see a larger reduction in the amount of gas that’s released into the atmosphere. Alternative animal feed certainly offers many benefits to animals, the planet, and farmers, and cows have a huge population that should be one of the key focuses of these future feed sources. While many farmers are stuck in their ways in regards to their feed solutions, it’s time to start looking into how to make feed for cattle. It may even help to reduce operating costs in the long run, especially if farmers find solutions that they can produce with ease on their farms.
Alternative Feed For Pigs
Moving on from alternative feed for cattle, another large population that we should look to offer alternative feed to is the pig population. Alternative feed ingredients in swine diets has also been subject to a lot of research in the past years due to increasing feed grain and supplement costs. There is also the potential that feed grain inventories will be depleted in the upcoming years. This is due to the increased demand for products within this industry and the high cost of feed when compared to the profits on offer for swine production. For many producers, this cost is just getting too high, making it impossible to manage a business that’s feasible to run for too many more years.
To make it sustainable to continue raising pigs, it’s time to look at an alternative feed for pigs. In general, corn and soybean meal are popular options for pigs when it comes to offering them the energy and protein they need to grow and thrive. However, there are many suitable alternatives that will help to meet their nutritional requirements. Farmers may also see a reduction in the cost of their diets, which can help to overcome the issues of the lack of availability of corn and soybean. While alternative grains are on offer, we encourage farmers to look at novel proteins, such as algae and insects.
One thing to keep in mind regarding alternative feeds for ruminants is that the price relationship will vary based on the season and the local market. Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll need to look at how cost-effective it could be to offer your pigs this type of alternative diet. Both insects and algae are easy for pigs to digest, offering them good-quality protein and the right amino acid profile. You’ll find they are also very palatable and have a fair storage life. No matter the age of your pigs, they could benefit from these feed options, which offer a complete feed solution to look after their health.
A reason for considering insect protein is that this feed source is something that can be grown on your farm. Instead of dealing with the environmental impact and high cost of shipping food, you can enjoy growing this alternative feed source in just a short period of time. Insects are rich in protein and amino acids, which pigs need to grow and survive. They can be almost free to raise as well, which is going to be much cheaper than paying for corn or soybean meal in the long run. Energy, lysine, and phosphorus are key to look for when choosing a food source, and you’ll find that you can compare these values to find the overall quality of the alternative feed source.
Alternative Feed Today
As you can see so far, the alternative feed market is only continuing to grow year after year. By learning the answer to the question of what is alternative livestock, you can find solutions for cattle, chickens, and pigs to ensure they are receiving the nutrients that are needed on a daily basis. Keep in mind that as time goes on, we only expect to see novel foods, insect protein, and algae protein become more readily available on the market. These alternative feedstocks could help to reduce the cost of raising livestock while also reducing the impact that your farm or animals have on the environment. As well as animals taking advantage of these foods, we expect to see humans also enjoy alternative foods in the future in the form of novel proteins.
Alternative feeds for pigs, cattle, and chickens are still in their early stages. There is still some reluctance from many farmers to switch over to this type of feed. One of the main reasons for this is a concern about availability. While this will hopefully become less of a problem.
At the current time, many people are still unsure about the use of insects and algae. A lot of this train of thought is influenced by the fact that humans are yet to eat these foods on a regular basis. However, they are also being tested and offered for human consumption. As we introduce these foods enter our regular diets, it’s more likely that animals will also enjoy this alternative feed for chickens. Single-cell proteins animal feed are an easy way for farmers and animal owners to ensure that animals enjoy a balanced diet in the future. They are a simple yet effective food source that will help to overcome many of the availability and sustainability concerns that we are currently experiencing.
The quick turnaround of alternative feed is one of the biggest reasons to consider switching to these alternative feed solutions. In fact, algae are the fastest growing organisms in nature. There are various projects at the moment looking into the production techniques, which can help to speed up the production of this type of alternative poultry feed. Artificial ponds can be used to grow algae, which is then dried and made into meal. With up to 45% protein, this alternative chicken feed and pig feed is a valuable ingredient for the future.
A popular phrase in the human food industry is “food miles,” but this can also apply to animal feed. The benefit of using both algae and insects for alternative feed for broiler chickens is that they can be produced locally. You might even want to consider growing them on your own farm, thanks to the high yield per hectare they offer. Algae can offer four to five times the yield of soya, making it a much more sustainable future feed solution. You won’t have to compete for the limited agricultural land on offer, and insects can help to use bio-waste up on your farm. Of course, it’s important to ensure these feed sources still offer the results you are looking for with your animals, but it’s certainly food for thought.
The world of alternative feed is still something that’s fairly new for many farmers and those raising animals, but we are excited to see what happens in this industry in the next few years. As time progresses, we expect novel foods, algae protein, and insect protein to become much more accepted by consumers and farmers. They can be easier to grow on your own land, offering a high yield with even just a limited amount of space. The pressure on farmers to make more sustainable choices is only continuing to increase year after year. The sooner you can start to make switches, the easier it will be to continue working in this way moving forward. We encourage you to look through our site for inspiration about novel ingredients and algae for animal feed, as we are passionate about assisting you with the task of finding a sustainable future food solution.