Podcast: Feeds of the Future

How do insect and microalgae feeds influence meat quality?

Worldwide there is a growing demand of animal products for human nutrition, despite vegan and vegetarian diets becoming more popular in Western countries. Changing diets necessitate a substantial amount of protein as an input factor for animal production. Future protein feedstuffs will need to become independent of arable land in order to avoid further land use changes, such as deforestation. The cultivation of insects as well as microalgae are up-and-coming sectors in Germany, as well as globally, to meet protein demands for humans and animals, alike. Therefore, a research team at the University of Göttingen investigated whether these alternative protein sources alter typical meat quality.

We interviewed the lead authour, Dr. Brianne Altmann, Division of Quality of Animal Products at the University of Göttingen, about their exciting new study:

  1. In a recent study – that is part of the project “Sustainability Transitions in Food Production” – you have conducted experiments on chicken fed with soy, spirulina and insects as the main protein source and observed the meat quality. First of all, we would like to know, why it is important to work with alternative protein sources in animal feed? 
  2. Concerning the quality of the protein from algae and insects. How do they differ from soy? Are there similarities?
  3. Keeping in mind that most of our listeners have not conducted their own experiments, can you explain to us How exactly you conducted these the experiments?
  4. Please, could you summarize the results of your study? Is there anything that surprised you or did they turn out just as you had expected?
  5. Looking ahead of time: Do you think that insects and algae have the potential to be used as an alternative protein source on a regular basis?
  6. What is next for you now? Are you planning to conduct more research in this particular area?
  7. Do you know if there is also research looking into the potential of alternative protein sources for other livestock, e.g. pigs? Can your findings possibly deliver insights here? 
  8. Is there something important to keep in mind when feeding algae or insects as the main protein source?

Here you can find the press release of the University of Göttingen and the original publication by Brianne A. Altmann, Ruth Wigger, Marco Ciulu, Daniel Mörlein: The effect of insect or microalga alternative protein feeds on broiler meat quality in Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture (open access).

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