Protein is an essential nutrient in modern livestock feed. There has been a heavy reliance on using imported soya protein, which has a large environmental impact and high associated costs for farmers. Cheaper alternatives to soya protein are available. However, the quality of these alternatives is variable and this can have a negative impact on livestock digestion and greenhouse gas emission from farms.
Professors Phil Garnsworthy and Julian Wiseman explored the use of distiller's grains (DDGS) in UK livestock feed. DDGS is a co-product from the bioethanol industry and is therefore a sustainable resource. As part of a large Defra funded project bringing together researchers and industry partners from all sectors of the UK bioethanol, livestock and arable industries – ENNBIO – they sought to evaluate the benefits of feeding livestock DDGS from the bioethanol industry. The research established the nutritional composition of UK and EU DDGS as well optimal inclusions level in pig, poultry and dairy feed rations. Further research with AB Agri Ltd, sought to evaluate the benefits of feeding livestock a novel protein rich rapeseed meal called NovaPro. The research established the nutritional composition of NovaPro and found that feeding NovaPro enhanced milk yield in dairy cows.
The body of research has given confidence to the animal feed and livestock farming industries to move away from soya as the main source of protein in feed. Since the ENNBIO project, the use of DDGS in livestock feeds has increased in the UK. NovaPro was launched in 2019, with University of Nottingham research supporting the marketing and sales of the new product.