A consortium led by sustainable aquaculture innovators Aquanzo Ltd has received funding to investigate the feasibility of farming artemia, a small marine shrimp similar to krill, as an alternative circular produced marine protein for young chickens, known as broilers.
Funded by Innovate UK in collaboration with Agri-EPI Centre and SRUC, the 24-month project will explore the use of different agricultural by-products to produce artemia, in turn investigating the nutritional benefits as a broiler chick starter feed on gut health, lifetime growth and performance. Marine proteins, such as krill, are one of the best sources of nutrients for young farm terrestrial and aquatic animals. However, harvesting of marine ingredients from the wild has reached its limit and has a significant impact on the environment and costs have reduced its use in commercial young animal feeding.
Aquanzo is developing technologies to farm a new source of marine proteins, artemia, sustainably, at scale and on land, artemia, a marine zooplankton.
Remi Gratacap, Aquanzo CEO says: “Farming marine protein has the potential to revolutionise the animal feed sector, by combining the best of marine ingredients (nutritional value, taste and energy) and farming (scalable, controllable, sustainable precision platform)”
At the industrial scale, Aquanzo is forecasting production capacity of thousands of metric tonnes of artemia meal per year per industrial facility.
Remi continues: “Marine protein Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are the main contributor to aquaculture environmental impact accentuated by long distance transport and the long-term resilience of the sector is dependent on a fragile environmental balance under climate change threat.”
Agri-EPI Centre will provide life cycle analysis, measuring exactly how environmentally sustainable the product is at each stage of its development, in addition to project management.
Agri-EPI Centre Sustainability Analyst, Emily Laskin, said: “Using this scientific method for quantifying sustainability we will evaluate the production of Artemia and compare the results to the production of fishmeal. We hope this study will prove Artemia to be an environmentally sustainable source of protein and a valuable part of the solution to the growing challenges faced by the aquaculture industry.”
SRUC Professor, Dr Jos Houdijk, Head of Monogastric Science Research Centre, who will undertake the feed performance trials on starter broiler feed and following the growth cycle, said: “Following the establishment of its nutritional value, Artemeal provides great opportunity to bring back into starter diets for broilers the nutritional and functional benefits traditionally derived from the use of fishmeal.”