An in-depth look at the best possibilities for substituting soya in feed for different livestock species in terms of advantages, affordability, problems and prospects.

By: Muaz Ameen, Aqeela Saghir

Soybean meal is a great source of protein for poultry, pork and dairy farms. Because the price of soybean meal varies and may be quite costly, farmers are looking at products that can substitute it completely or partially. Furthermore, soybean farming in various areas of the globe is linked to the degradation and degradation of natural grasslands. However, substituting soybean feed requires careful consideration of transportation distance, processing requirements, and other considerations. Alternative’ proteins quality and value are other factors. Following are five great soybean meal replacements based on protein composition, sustainability and affordability.

Pulses (beans & peas)

The only downside of using pulses instead of soybean meal is that some transportation may be necessary. Growing demand for plant-based protein products implies more acreage of high-protein pulse crops like field peas. The use of non-food crop parts as a feed component to substitute protein sources like soybean meal and other elements like cereal grains in beef, sheep, dairy cattle, pigs, and poultry has been studied for over two decades. Cull peas and beans contain both protein and carbs, making them a good energy source. Field peas are rich in protein and low in fiber. They are very appealing for beef cattle and may be used in creep feeds and receiving diets when both palatability and nutritional density are needed.

Chickpeas are being studied as a ruminant feed component. Faba beans are an on-farm alternative for a protein component of cow feed. It’s don’t need to be roasted since they are low in oil and enzymes. Cull edible beans (navy, pinto, kidney, etc.) should not exceed 10% of the ration dry matter to avoid diarrhea. Producers should introduce cull edible beans to cattle gradually.

Canola feed and other oilseed fodder

Oilseed feed, the residue following extraction of oil, can replace soybean meal in many forms of animal diet. In particular, Canola food is rich in protein and has an amino acid profile similar to soybean meal. In Europe, Canada, the US and Australia, canola has become a staple in many animal diets, notably dairy cattle and pigs. Some poultry and aquaculture animals consume it. In many regions of the US, however, canola meal is not an expense or viable replacement to soybean meal due to a lack of local canola seed processing capability.

Canola breeding initiatives have nearly eliminated glucosinolates (which may harm animal productivity and fitness). In certain countries, canola meal is blended with rapeseed meal and sold as canola meal alone. While rapeseed meal is an acceptable nutritive substitute to soybean meal for dairy cattle, it has a lower worldwide availability and a different amino acid makeup. Anti-nutritional components in the foodstuff increase processing or enzyme supplementation expenses. Sunflower, peanut, and sesame seed meals also beneficial alternatives to soybean feed. Pumpkin seed patty/meal surpasses soybean feed dairy production, rumen digestibility and fermentation.

Brewer’s consumed grains

Brewer’s wasted grains are the leftovers from brewing barley, wheat, maize, rice, or oats. It has long been a staple in cow feed and has been given to pork in several areas. It is a tasty, low-cost protein meal component strong in lipids and fiber. It is deficient in starch (energy) and needs urea to deliver all the amino acids necessary by cows.

While Brewer’s waste grains are abundant in minerals and vitamins, supplementary calcium is required if this feed component is fed in large quantities to cattle. Brewer’s waste grains may substitute soybean meal or fishmeal in aquaculture feeds. Scientists discovered that this substance might replace up to 100% soybean meal without affecting tilapia development. High fiber content restricts usage with broiler chicks, yet it is effective.

The price of wasted grains varies. Brewer’s waste grains are best given to cattle shortly after delivery to minimize spoiling. Its high moisture content (up to 80%) may increase shipping costs over long distances. During the summer, when beer production is at its highest, leftover grains may be dried or siloed and fed to cattle in the winter, when the grass is scarce. This increases expenses; however, certain locations can dry using the sun’s heat. Brewer’s waste grain silage requires careful temperature and pH management.

Insect meal

Insect meal is a rising feed protein alternative to soybean meal. It is healthy, cheap, and can be grown locally. Insect diets are high in protein, fatty acids, and antimicrobial peptides. Black soldier fly meal has more lipids and calcium than soybean meal. Because insects are a natural food source for wild equivalents, giving insect protein to certain livestock species such as fish and fowl is permissible.

Because insects eat wasted food, insect meal is a “resource efficiency” dine. The yield of insect meal for cattle feed is increasing in Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere, although the capability is still limited. Issues include branding and supplies.

Researchers are now investigating ways of inspection to ensure that an insect meal package’s constituents meet the labelled in aspects of insect variety and that the insects are not served animal food.

Single-cell protein

Although prices are still an issue, single-cell protein has been studied as a protein and fat supplier for animals. Massive Manufacturing Single-cell protein from yeast and bacteria was just commercialized for aquafeeds, although it was commercialized for animal feeding in Finland in the 1990s. For farmed animals, hens, and pork, single-cell protein from yeast is being examined for its antibacterial characteristics. Yeast and bacteria grow quickly, making them viable for large-scale oil and protein synthesis, but they need carbon chains to thrive. Similarly, heterotrophic microalgae are produced for protein and oil for aquafeeds.

Microalgae need carbon and trace minerals and develop at a slower pace than yeast and bacteria. Using carbohydrate-active enzymes that boost nutrient bioavailability may help scientists integrate microalgae into chicken feeds. Microalgae may be utilized as a protein source for nursing dairy cows in intensive milk production systems, replacing soybean meal or faba beans. Large-scale autotrophic microalgae production (using photosynthesis to collect CO2 from the air as a carbon source) may be conceivable in the future. It takes creative tank design or lighting systems to ensure adequate light reaches all algae cells as their density grows.

Other profitable substitutions

Maize by-products such as distiller’s cereals, corn-gluten feed, and corn gluten may also substitute soybean meal in livestock.

In the US and Europe, protein concentrate from feed-grade barley is extensively marketed as an aquaculture feed element. Barley is a sustainable crop since it thrives in locations where other food crops do not, requires minimal water and inputs, and is not genetically engineered.

Authors: Muaz Ameen, Aqeela Saghir. University of Agriculture Faisalabad.

By Muaz Ameen

I'm Muaz Ameen, and I am genuinely captivated by the world of botany. I find immense joy in exploring the intricate wonders of plants and their ecosystems.