One of the legacies of the BSE crisis has been an ongoing ban on the use of processed animal protein (PAP) for the poultry sector. But, the EU’s decision to re-authorise the use of PAP in poultry and pig diets as part of its Farm to Fork strategy to make better use of animal by-products to reduce the EU’s protein deficit, has sparked renewed interest in the UK.
With increasing focus on the environmental impact of food production, reducing the use of South American soya in animal feed has been highlighted as key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in poultry production. Processed animal protein has often been promoted as a potential alternative protein source to reduce the use of soya.
Delegates at a recent nutritional discussion on its potential for UK poultry feed heard from Carine van Vuure, nutrition and regulatory affairs manager for Darling Ingredients, a rendering business supplying PAP for pig and poultry feed in the UK.
Following the reauthorisation of PAP in the autumn of 2021, Darling Ingredients delivered their first load of PAP to a feed mill in the Netherlands just 6 months later.
Van Vuure provided an overview of the legislative framework in the EU, highlighting that while non-ruminant PAP and insect meal had been re-authorised for pig and poultry feed, porcine protein can only be fed to poultry and vice-versa.
There are also stringent traceability requirements to prevent cross-contamination, including single species segregated feed lines in mills and a requirement that PAP is only fed on farms where there are no other livestock species present. This could make it difficult for non-integrated supply chains to access the benefits of PAP.
The seminar heard that public perception of its use was still in the balance, according to a study carried out by Wageningen University, which surveyed 5,000 consumers from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland, and the UK.
Results from the study found that while participants from all of the nations had a low knowledge of feed ingredients, they wanted them to be “natural”, “healthy” and plant-based. Overall, 44% of respondents were neutral towards feeding animal proteins.
Van Vuure said this large group could be influenced by activist NGOs, and she said it was important to involve supportive NGOs in discussions to help deliver consistent and accurate messaging to consumers.
Ralph Bishop, Premier Nutrition poultry nutritionist, presented theoretical feed formulations to demonstrate how PAP could feature in typical UK broiler and layer diets. He said that PAP at a 5% inclusion rate could reduce soya by 20% in a typical broiler diet or by 40% in a typical mid-lay ration.
With a significantly smaller greenhouse gas footprint compared to soya, PAP could enable a sizeable reduction in emissions associated with poultry feed. But, the webinar heard there were still significant barriers to using PAP in UK poultry rations.
Rachel O’Connor, a partner in the agriculture team at Michelmore solicitors, said she believed the GB legislation would be amended in the future to permit the use of processed insect protein in poultry and pig feed.
She cited the WWF ‘Future of Feed: A WWF Roadmap to accelerating insect protein in UK feeds’ report, which acknowledged that “if legislation were to be amended to permit the use of processed insect protein in pig and poultry diets, a far larger market could be accessed and insect farming could become an attractive investment, generating returns for UK industry”. The question is, when will this happen?
While the UK poultry sector has been relatively quiet on the issues, the National Pig Association (NPA) said in December that UK producers should be given the same opportunity as their EU counterparts to use PAP as a sustainable feed ingredient.
While about 1.3 tonnes of pig and poultry PAP is produced annually, about 780,000 tonnes goes into fish and pet food, with the remainder exported to third countries.
Lizzie Wilson, NPA chief executive, said: “We support a policy which would allow the feeding of pig PAP to poultry and vice versa, provided it was properly regulated.”