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Aarhus University explores Uniprotein as sustainable option for swine nutrition

Denmark's Aarhus University is testing whether Uniprotein, a new bacteria-based source of protein, can be an environmentally-friendly component of pig feed.

30 June 2021, at 8:30am

Uniprotein is a source of protein made of bacteria able to grow on methane as substrate.

A future use of this type of protein will, among others, be able to reduce the carbon footprint for the production of feedstuff to farmed animals as well as minimise the use of animal sources of protein.

We need new sustainable sources of protein in order to meet the increased need for protein for the agricultural feed production. The bacterial source of protein (BPM), Uniprotein, which is developed by the company UniBio A/S, is considered to be sustainable because it has the ability to grow on methane as substrate – almost independently of access to soil and water. The protein is approved as a feed ingredient in EU, and within the last years the patented production process has been scaled for possible commercialisation.

The potential of Uniprotein must be tested

Uniprotein has a content of protein and oil corresponding to fish meal and holds other possible functional nutrients. Therefore, the GUDP project “SUPIAF – Sustainable Protein Ingredients as Animal Feed” was initiated in 2019. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the potential of Uniprotein for use in feed for piglets and breeding fish as well as to further develop the product. Professor Mette Olaf Nielsen from Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University participates in the part of the project dealing with testing Uniprotein in pigs:

“In the beginning of 2020, we began a feeding experiment in the experimental barns at AU Foulum. Here, we test the digestibility of the Unibio protein and its individual amino acids compared with other common sources of protein used for pigs after weaning”, says Mette Olaf Nielsen.

“This autumn, we are going to conduct a larger feeding trial at “TestGris, Pig Consultancy” to follow the growth and feed efficiency of newly weaned pigs when we add increasing amounts of Uniprotein instead of potato protein and fish meal to their diet”, says Mette Olaf Nielsen. Besides growth and feed efficiency, the researchers also look further into Uniprotein’s potential impact on the occurrence of diarrhoea and how Uniprotein affects the development of the pigs’ gastrointestinal system.

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In the overall project, the product will be optimised in relation to the nutritional needs of weaner pigs. At DTU, in cooperation with Biomar A/S, they will look at the same conditions in salmon so that the product can form part of feeding companies’ feed mixtures as a sustainable protein ingredient or a functional additive in the future.