A consortium of researchers is exploring the viability of red seaweed as a sustainable substitute for soybean meal in poultry feed.

The Novel Seaweed Chicken Feed Feasibility (NSCFF) project will explore the feasibility of using tank or sea cultivated dulse – a protein-rich red seaweed – as a practical and cost-efficient alternative chicken feed.

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Seaweed Generation will lead it in collaboration with SRUC, University of West London, CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) and Microgrow Systems,

The £500k project will develop an automated macroalgal protein cultivation system, harnessing the nutritional benefits of seaweed to create an environmentally-conscious protein source for poultry.

Trials will be conducted at SRUC’s poultry facility near Edinburgh to assess the impact of dulse inclusion on nutrient digestibility, growth, carcass quality and gut health, offering essential insights into its potential as a sustainable and efficient alternative protein source for chicken feed.

Farina Khattak, who will lead the SRUC trials with Jos Houdijk, said: “Dulse possesses significant potential due to its higher bioavailable protein content.

“However, the current challenge lies in the prohibitively expensive and intricate nature of dulse cultivation.

Although it can be grown at sea, its complex life cycle adds a layer of difficulty to the process.

“In contrast to terrestrial crops, the rapid growth capacity of dulse holds promise for providing a sustainable supply of biomass suitable for integration into poultry diets as a valuable protein source.

“The project represents a significant leap towards locally sourced and eco-friendly poultry nutrition, envisioning a reshaped industry by introducing a cost-effective alternative to soybean meal, thus mitigating the ecological impact of poultry production.”

Poultry.Network Sustainability Hub

CIEL is a partner of the Poultry.Network Sustainability Hub.

The Poultry.Network Sustainability Hub is a project showcasing and supporting the UK’s poultry sector as it moves to a more sustainable future. Find out more here.

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