Demand for animal feed is on the rise worldwide and dairy cattle is no exception. But where will all the feed come from? One emerging option is algae meal, a product or co-product from algal biofuels production. To study algae meal as feed for dairy cattle, University of Minnesota recently completed a feed-trial of PetroAlgae‘s micro-crop meal to determine how it performed. The trial discovered that it performed as well as alfalfa in dairy cattle diets. The global market for dairy feed from alfalfa alone is estimated at 400 million metric tons by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The study encompassed a continuous 6-week feeding trial of a statistically significant sample of 36 dairy cows living in barns housed at the University of Minnesota. It measured the algae meal against a 17.5 percent protein alfalfa diet and measured nutrient intake, milk yield and composition. With the positive results, PetroAlgae anticipates its micro-crop meal will be highly competitive in the feed market.
The University of Minnesota study is the first to validate PetroAlgae micro-crop meal in the dairy diet against the industry standard. Several key findings included algae meal having higher dairy efficiency values, higher energy values than alfalfa, and algae meal matched the alfalfa diet in milk, milk yield, body score, and body weight.
“The results of this study show that PetroAlgae micro-crop meal is a desirable ingredient for high producing dairy cattle and that it performed comparably to high-protein alfalfa meal,” said Dr. Noah Litherland, who performed the study at the University of Minnesota. “We are encouraged to see this product perform so well against one of the more universally understood products in dairy nutrition.”
Litherland added, “There is also an intriguing opportunity to alter the lipid composition of the meat and milk for added human health benefit.”
Who knows, in the not to distant future farmer’s may be growing algae for feed and fuel alongside alfalfa and other crops.