Using its new MicroBalance™ concept Skretting can nearly halve previous fishmeal levels without detracting from feed performance, fish welfare or end product quality and without including Land Animal Proteins (LAPs). Equivalent salmon and trout grower feeds will arrive in the UK over the coming months.
Sissel Susort, Product Manager in Skretting Norway, explains, “MicroBalance™ technology provides alternative sources of micro-nutrients normally sourced from fishmeal. It is a breakthrough at micro-level with consequences of macro proportions. Because we can formulate effective grower feeds with far lower fishmeal content we can moderate the impact of spikes in fishmeal prices. Further ahead, MicroBalance™ is a boost for sustainability. We can share available fishmeal over a much greater production of high quality fish from aquaculture to feed the world of tomorrow.”
Global catches of fish conventionally used for fishmeal declined in recent years, for example through tighter control of fisheries. The volume available to fishmeal producers fell more sharply because of growing sales for human consumption. Also, there is strong competition for fishmeal from animal feed producers, for example for pig feed in China. Susort says, “These trends increase the importance of MicroBalance™ and improving quality and sustainability specifications mean that we cannot use just any fishmeal.”
MicroBalance™ technology is derived from research over several years at Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre. The work identified essential micro-nutrients in fishmeal that were the limiting factors for minimum fishmeal levels. Skretting researchers found alternative sources of these micro-nutrients and defined parameters for their use in feed.
Susort continues, “This gives formulators far greater flexibility. As fishmeal prices fluctuate the fishmeal content will be adjusted to obtain the most economic feed formulation. Currently, fishmeal prices are high so MicroBalance™ is having immediate impact. In Norway we are applying MicroBalance™ in all Optiline feeds for salmon and trout in the sea. Micro-Balance™ feeds were thoroughly tested with fish of all sizes, in summer and winter. We no longer see any of the organ changes seen previously at low fishmeal levels. In 2009 we completed the final double check with trials at Helgeland Research Station, involving fish from 2.6 to 4.7 kg. They confirmed that MicroBalance™ works and can be applied in commercial feed.”
“The principle behind MicroBalance™ is the same as in AminoBalance™, where Skretting balances the essential amino acids so that muscle growth does not slow down, as it does when there is a deficiency of any one of these. Similarly, LipoBalance™ uses knowledge of fish oils and other oils to ensure optimum energy levels in feeds and an adequately high level of omega-3 in the fully grown fish. In MicroBalance™ we use knowledge of the functions of micro-nutrients to ensure adequate levels of all nutrients required for efficient growth and optimum fish welfare.”