The use of fish oil in animal feed
Although it was formerly considered a "second product" from the manufacture of fishmeal, fish oil is currently a widely used product in nutrition, due to its high nutritional value.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is a type of natural fat, in liquid form, that is obtained from fish fat, through a process of pressing, sifting and centrifuging cooked fish. Fish oil is an excellent natural source of essential Omega 3 fatty acids, known as “good fats”.
It is extracted especially from fatty fish, such as blue fish, highlighting tuna, anchovy, herring, sardines, salmon or trout, which provide around 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids in 1kg of fish.
Between the main components of fish oil stands out the high content of Omega 3 and Omega 6, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and vitamins A, B, C, E and D.
Fish oil is used both in human nutrition and in animal nutrition, for chickens, pigs, cattle and even pets, for example, for dogs. For humans, consumption of fish oil can lower blood pressure, lower blood triglyceride level or improve cholesterol, and also has anti-inflammatory effect.
Importance of fish oil in animal feed
Although it was formerly considered a “second product” from the manufacture of fishmeal, fish oil is currently a widely used product in nutrition, due to its high nutritional value.
It is used for the preparation of balanced feed in poultry, pig, ruminant and aquaculture, as well as in pets.
The inclusion of fish oil in the diet of chickens improves their growth and helps improve the immune response of birds against infections.
For the diet of lactating sows, fish oil increases the fat content in the milk, offering more energy to the piglets. The Omega 3 fatty acids present in the colostrum and the milk fed to the piglets have an anti-inflammatory effect and improve passive maternal immunity.
In ruminants it has been shown that a small amount of fish oil introduced into the diet can reduce flatulence. In a study carried out by a team of researchers from University College Dublin, it has been shown that the inclusion of fish oil in the diet of cows, sheep and goats could reduce methane production by up to 25%.
In pet food, essential fatty acids help strengthen the immune system, improve the appearance of the hair and eyesight, have anti-cancer properties and reduce the risk of kidney failure. In dogs and cats, fish oil also helps combat the symptoms of depression, improving their quality of life.
But the main use of fish oil remains in aquaculture, especially for species such as salmon and trout. Salmon is a carnivorous species and has to be fed with inputs of animal origin, fishmeal and fish oil are a basic food for these species. For farmed fish, apart from supporting and promoting growth, good quality fish oil ensures a food of high nutritional value that translates into benefits for human health.
World fish oil production
In 2020, the main exporters of fish oil were Peru ($365M), Denmark ($245M), Norway ($211M), Chile ($192M), and the United States ($188M), while countries such as Norway, Denmark and China were the main importers.
World fish oil production in 2021 fell 6% from the previous year, with an estimated of 546,000 mmt compared to 581,000 mmt in 2020. Chile, Iceland and India improved their production in 2021, while the main producer, Peru, recorded a decline.
But, at the beginning of 2022, the situation registered a remarkable change, with the world production of fishmeal decreasing by 12% and that of oil rising by 11%, according to the latest report from the Marine Ingredients Organization (IFFO). According to market research, the drop in fishmeal was due to lower anchovy catches in Peru, and oil production was driven by higher capelin catches in Iceland and higher production in other northern European countries, the United States and Spain.
Fish oil preservation
Fish oil is characterized by its instability, deteriorating rapidly on contact with external agents, such as light, metals or enzymes. To prevent oxidation, it is recommended to use natural antioxidants.
The fishing line of products that contains natural additives developed and produced by Biovet S.A., includes preservatives for feed and for fats. This line includes:
– Alquerfish Fish Meal is designed for the preservation of fishmeal, as it controls the growth of microorganisms. It combines the cimenol ring molecule, effective as a microbicide and preservative, citric acid, and other antimicrobial components.
– Alquernat Antiox P and L are designed to prevent the oxidation of fats, vitamins and carotenes in the feed. Combines the synergistic antioxidant activities of vitamin C and vitamin E.
– Alquermold Fish L is intended for the preservation of fresh fish stored in warehouses destined for fishmeal processing plants. It is specially designed to control Pseudomonas, Alcaligenes, Achromobacter and other contaminating pathogens in raw fish. In this way, it maintains the protein levels in fresh fish.
– Alquernat Oxyfree P and L are natural antioxidants for feed and fats.
– Alquerfish Acistop is a product that corrects and regulates the acidity of fish oil.