Different qualities of fish meal and their nutritional contributions
Due to its high protein and fat content, fishmeal is used in the formulation of feed for chickens, pigs, cows and shrimps, among others.
What is fishmeal?
Fishmeal is an organic product, extracted from whole fish, fish parts or waste from the fishing industry. It is obtained through a process that involves cooking, pressing, drying and grinding, to remove water and oil from the fish. It is known that from each ton of raw material (fish or by-products) between 4 and 5 sacks of fishmeal are obtained.
The quality of the flour and its nutritional contributions
The nutritional value of fishmeal depends mainly on the type of fish used for its manufacture. To produce fishmeal, very diverse species are used, among which it is worth mentioning the anchoveta (which is not used for human consumption), produced mainly in Peru, sardines, blue or white fish (hake, cod).
The nutritional value and quality of the flour also depends on the freshness of the fish, the cooking temperature and the storage conditions.
The processing of raw, fresh fish at low temperature (<70ºC) produces high quality flour. Blue fish has a higher amount of protein (>70%) and fats (9%) than white fish. Preservation is very important to prevent the degradation of essential amino acids and maintain high flour quality.
Use and importance in animal feed
Due to its high protein and fat content, fishmeal is used in the formulation of feed for chickens, pigs, cows and shrimps, among others. In addition to providing protein, which helps the growth and development of animals, it contains vitamins (A, B, B12 and D), minerals (phosphorus and calcium) and is a rich source of Omega-3.
Used in chicken feed, fishmeal contributes to a rapid growth, improves immunity and helps the development of the nervous system and bone structure.
In laying hens, it improves disease resistance and fertility and an increase in the nutritional value of eggs is also noticed.
For dairy cows, it helps increase milk production, with a high protein content, while decreasing milk fat.
In the case of sheep, it has been demonstrated that improves fertility and in swine it stimulates rapid growth of small pigs and improves feed conversion rate.
But the most frequent use of fishmeal is in aquaculture. Provides farmed fish or shrimp with special nutrients that could not be found in other products. Protein is the key to fish growth and fishmeal protein has a balanced amino acid value and is highly digestible. Therefore, fishmeal helps both growth and maintaining quality nutrition and a nutritious final product, which affects the final consumer.
Given its interest in animal feed, in recent years the consumption of fishmeal has grown considerably and world production for 2021 reached 2,443 million tons, with a growth of 3.6% compared to the previous year. Peru, Chile and India are the main contributors to this growth. On the other hand, China stands out as a consumer of fishmeal and fish oil in 2021.
How to improve the quality of fishmeal
For a quality fishmeal, antioxidants must be added in the first stages of processing, to prevent fat rancidity and possible combustion, since fishmeal can spontaneously combust and requires precautions in transport and storage.
One option in this process is to add natural additives such as antioxidants. For example, the Alquernat Antiox and Alquernat Oxyfree additives, developed and produced by Biovet S.A., prevent the oxidation of fats, vitamins and carotenes in the feed.
When fresh fish is used and the product has to be stored, it is recommended to use additives to prevent damage to the raw material. The use of an additive such as Alquermold Fish L preserves fresh fish stored in warehouses destined for fishmeal processing plants. This product manages to control Pseudomonas, Alcaligenes, Achromobacter and other contaminating pathogens of unprocessed fish. The additive is also used for the preservation of fishmeal, since it controls the growth of microorganisms. It combines the cimenol ring molecule, effective as a microbicide and preservative, citric acid, and other antimicrobial components.