An Innovate UK funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) involving the James Hutton Institute and Davidsons Animal Feeds is exploring the possibilities of protein-rich UK seaweeds to replace some currently used ingredients in the production of ruminant animal feeds, with associated benefits in terms of meat quality and a reduced carbon footprint.
The project is featured in a BBC article here and is due to appear on BBC Radio 4’s lunchtime news show, The World at One . Two Scottish newspapers, The Herald and The National have also run the story building on previous media interest where KTP Associate, David Beattie, was interviewed on BBC Radio’s Out of Doors programme and featured in Farming Scotland.
It is well-known that seaweeds are eaten by ruminants in the wild. There is considerable evidence of improvement in meat quality and health in animals fed with seaweed. This KTP project aims to pinpoint the ideal seaweeds for use in ruminant feeds based on their nutritional value, with a particular interest in protein content. This could reduce our reliance on produce imported from overseas.
KTPs create a dynamic three-way partnership between a company, a talented Graduate (the KTP Associate who acts as the Project Manager) and an expert academic team – here, the James Hutton Institute. Dr Gordon McDougall, a research scientist in its Environmental and Biochemical Sciences group in Dundee, said seaweeds have the potential to provide greener feeds to support Scotland’s enviable reputation as a producer of high-quality meats.
“Increased cultivation of seaweeds in the UK may help bolster our coastal communities by providing a new source of income. In addition, seaweed-plus feeds may bring other nutritional benefits as they are rich in vitamins and minerals,” Dr McDougall said.
Over the next three years, KTP Associate David Beattie will work from a selection of candidate seaweeds of appropriate dietary suitability to produce prototype feeds at suitable volumes using Davidsons state-of-the-art feed mill.
Commenting on the project, David said: “I see this project as an exciting opportunity to be involved in such multifaceted research. Whilst I’ll be relying on my scientific knowledge to analyse candidate seaweeds for feed production, I’ll also be able to develop new skills in market research and product development.”
Jim Berryman, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at the Knowledge Transfer Network, one of the delivery partners of the KTP programme, added “KTPs provide a very useful mechanism to link ideas and expertise to enable innovation, and this is a particularly exciting initiative responding to the ever more urgent need to seek environmentally-conscious solutions to a wide variety of challenges.”
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