30 June 2000

Formaldehyde boosts feeds

FORMALDEHYDE-TREATED beans and rapemeal could challenge fishmeal as high quality protein sources for pregnant and lactating ewes.

Research from Harper Adams University College shows that ewes supplemented with fishmeal produced lambs with lower growth rates than those fed on concentrates where the main protein source was formaldehyde treated beans or rapemeal.

"Since BSE, there has been a desire to reduce reliance on animal proteins such as fishmeal. Low fish stocks and the high price of fishmeal also add to pressure to reduce its use," says David Handford.

"Formaldehyde treatment increases the quality of protein supplied by beans and rapemeal to pregnant and lactating ewes."

Mr Handford says treatment of beans could be carried out readily on almost any farm. All that was required was a grain auger and propionic acid applicator. Formaldehyde is added instead of propionic acid at a rate of 2.4g/kg of beans.

For producers buying in beans, they could be treated at any time, but should be left for 48 hours after treatment before feeding to stock, advises Mr Handford.

In trials, growth rates of lambs from ewes fed formaldehyde-treated proteins were up to 45g a day higher from 0-28 days than for those from ewes fed fishmeal, he said.

While Mr Handford admitted that fishmeal used in the study was discovered to be low quality he said there was no reason to suggest it was any worse than fishmeal used on commercial farms.