Enhancing pig nutrition: The importance of phase feeding and the benefits of seaweed supplementation

For more than a decade, Ocean Harvest Technology has been researching and learning about the specific benefits that its seaweed blend products can generate
calendar icon 13 May 2024
clock icon 4 minute read

Editor's note: I recently spoke to Nico Stein, Chief Commercial Officer of Ocean Harvest Technology, about their OceanFeed product for swine and how it's particularly suited to phase feeding. The UK-based company harvests seaweed from around the world and processes it in Vietnam. They offer a global sales footprint with prebiotic products for the livestock, aquaculture and companion animal sectors.

Nico Stein, Chief Commercial Officer of Ocean Harvest Technology

Tell me about Ocean Harvest Technology.

For nearly two decades, Ocean Harvest Technology has been at the forefront of revolutionizing animal nutrition through the power of seaweed. With unparalleled expertise and a dedication to innovation, we have honed our craft to provide species-specific and uniquely composed blends of seaweed which we brand “OceanFeedTM”. These products are extensively researched, rigorously tested, and proven to support the health and performance of animals.

The main mode of action of OceanFeedTM is through the prebiotic effects of the soluble fiber (polysaccharides) component of the seaweeds. Research trials have consistently demonstrated this effect through the improvements in the presence of two of the main butyrate producing species of bacteria in the gut. The company has a patent granted which protects this pre-biotic claim of our OceanFeedTM product.

You have said your product is particularly suited to phase feeding - why is that?

In modern swine production, achieving optimal growth and performance hinges on precise nutrition strategies. One such strategy gaining traction is phase feeding, coupled with innovative, eco-friendly supplementation such as our species-specific seaweed blends. This approach not only ensures the fulfillment of pigs' nutritional requirements but also addresses sustainability concerns and maximizes efficiency throughout various growth stages of the pig.

Phase feeding is a tailored nutrition approach that recognizes the changing needs of pigs as they progress through different growth phases. By adjusting the nutrient composition of feed according to the specific requirements of each phase, producers can optimize growth rates, feed efficiency, resilience to disease challenges and overall performance.

    And how does the use of your seaweed blend, OceanFeedTM Swine, support that?

    In the early stages of growth, seaweed blends can support optimal development, gut health and immune function in piglets, laying the foundation for healthy, robust pigs. The prebiotic benefits of OceanFeed have been proven in many trials to support high growth rates and lower mortality in piglet diets including those that are targeting reduced or no use of antibiotic growth promoters.

    As they transition to later stages, their nutritional needs shift, emphasizing maintenance and lean muscle growth over rapid gains. The gut health and feed efficiency benefits of OceanFeed in these later stages of growth can be an effective solution to help maximise growth and efficiency. 

    The nutrition of the sow is a critical aspect in minimizing health problems such as dystocia, stillbirths and postpartum diseases, and can also directly benefit the health and survivability of her litter through enhanced fetal development and colostrum quality. OceanFeedTM Swine can improve nutrient absorption and optimize digestive processes in sows, supporting better health and performance outcomes for sows and their piglets.

      What makes OceanFeedTM Swine unique?

      For a start there are, to our knowledge, no other seaweed blends available in commercial quantities for use in the animal nutrition sector which makes OceanFeed unique. Compared with other products available to support phase feeding and gut health, OceanFeed is 100% natural, we use the whole seaweed and do not need to add emulsifiers, carrying agents or other synthetic products to the seaweed. The polysaccharides and other bioactive compounds in the seaweed OHT uses are more effective than those found in land based plants. Also, the product has a three year shelf life which is unique for an all-natural ingredient.

        And how does Ocean Harvest Technology’s products compare with others in terms of sustainability?

        Seaweed uses no arable land, fresh water or fertilisers to grow, so it is clear to see how our OceanFeedTM products made from seaweed are more sustainable, with a lower carbon footprint than nearly all other ingredients and additives used in animal feed. 

        One particularly exciting aspect of seaweed supplementation is its potential to reduce the environmental footprint of pig production through improved feed efficiency and lower feed consumption. The research shows that the seaweed species we use contain compounds that can improve digestibility, leading to these better feed conversion rates (FCR) and growth rates.

        When combining all of this together with the CO2 absorbing qualities of seaweed through its fast growth phase, we have calculated that using one tonne of OceanFeedTM Swine at an inclusion rate of 0.25% in swine diets can reduce the CO2 equivalent emissions by over 10 tonnes.

          What are your ambitions and plans for your blended seaweed product

          We have already had significant traction in selling OceanFeedTM Swine to feed, pre-mix and producers globally, including here in North America. We are a global business headquartered and listed on the stock exchange in the UK, with a GMP+ accredited manufacturing facility in Vietnam and we operate a global supply chain to source the most suitable seaweeds for use in animal nutrition.

          OHT is convinced that as the swine industry continues to evolve, embracing innovative nutrition strategies like phase feeding and seaweed supplementation will be key to meeting the growing demand for sustainable and efficient pork production. Our OceanFeedTM Swine product can be a core pillar of these developments.

          Sarah Mikesell


          Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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