Specially-developed enzymes may help chickens digest raw soybean meal, lessening the Australian poultry industry’s dependence on imported feedstuffs, a University of New England (UNE) researcher reports.
Professor Paul Iji from the School of Environmental and Rural Science says that the enzymes may also help lower feed costs and improve meat quality.
Soybean is the main source of protein for intensively-farmed poultry and other animals such as pigs, because it is rich in protein.
But the toxic compounds in raw soybean meal that inhibit growth means that the meal needs to be heat-treated before it can be used for feed.
“The local poultry industry in Australia and other parts of the world are at the mercy of soybean producers in America, with fluctuation in production, supply and price. So poultry researchers and producers in Australia have been trying to find alternatives,” says Professor Iji.
Laboratory trials showed the use of new enzymes could open up new possibilities for use of raw soybean meal in intensive farming in regions with moderate production of soybeans.
“Researchers at UNE have conducted several tests, including the one that we recently completed on raw soybeans,” Professor Iji says.
“The two and a half year PhD project by Mammo Erdaw focused on an enzyme targeting proteins, since it is well known that the toxic factors in raw soybeans are protein in nature.”
Animal trials examined a series of responses ranging from feed consumption to growth, internal organ development, how protein and energy were digested, release of amino acids from the diets, effects on nitrogen turnover, meat yield, leg bone strength and bone mineral content.
Overall, the enzymes improved growth and had no negative effects on the health of the birds.
A full commercial trial is scheduled to be conducted in a major chicken-producing region in Africa, where the poultry industry is growing rapidly and there is a need for increased supply of animal protein.
Read more about this important research here. Story credit: University of New England newsroom.
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