16 August 2002

Crimped lupins look good as protein feed

By Robert Davies

Wales correspondent

GROWING and crimping lupins in an attempt to replace some of the 1m tonnes of protein imported into the UK each year is looking promising in work at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research

At an open day at the institutes Trawsgoed Farm, Aberystwyth, as part of the Farming Connect initiative, researcher Rhun Fychan said crimping lupins had showed some potential.

Although the thick stems of lupins made the crop difficult to wilt, he suggested whole-cropping it using an inoculant could be an option in years when grain harvesting conditions were poor.

But to make a concentrate feed, lupin grains should contain no more than 15% moisture to store well, which cannot be achieved naturally in the west in mid-October. To avoid artificial drying costs, it was worth considering combining three weeks earlier and crimping grain.

IGER trials indicated a crop of yellow lupins could produce 2.7t/ha of dry grain (1.1t/acre). This would contain about 43% crude protein, 7% oil and have a metabolisable energy (ME) content of 14.8MJ/kg.

When harvested at 30% moisture for crimping lupins yielded 3.8t/ha of grain (1.5t/acre). The ME and protein of crimped lupins were the same as for dried grains.

Andy Strzelecki, technical director of SAS Kelvin Cave, added that it cost between £13 and £16/t to crimp lupin grains, including the blend of organic acids applied to rapidly lower pH for safe storage.

"The price of the special additive required is the reason why it costs about £3/t more than it does to crimp cereals," said Mr Strzelecki.

When lupins were combined early, grain contained a range of carbohydrates rather than mainly starch and the seed coat was not lignified, so was more easily digested. "Crimped lupins are a highly digestible moist protein feed ideally suited to the needs of ruminants," he said.

CRIMPED LUPINS

&#8226 High protein feed.

&#8226 Early harvest date.

&#8226 Special additive needed.