Digestibility of fractionated green biomass as protein source for monogastric animals

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Globally, there is an increased demand for sustainable protein sources for animal feed. Grass and forage legumes have the yield potential to become such alternatives, but the protein needs to be separated from the fibres. Red clover, white clover, lucerne and perennial ryegrass were fractionated into a green juice and a fibrous pulp in a screw-press and protein was subsequently precipitated. The nitrogen (N) and amino acid composition of the produced fractions was analysed and the digestibility of dry matter (DM) and N was evaluated using a rat digestibility trial. The aim was to determine the effect of fractionation on composition and digestibility in order to evaluate the four plants as potential protein sources for monogastrics. Protein concentrates with CP concentrations of 240 to 388 g/kg DM and fibrous pulps with CP concentrations of 111 to 216 g/kg DM were produced. The sum of all analysed amino acids was highest in the protein concentrates corresponding to a low concentration of non-protein nitrogen ranging from 4.9% to 10.4%. Only small variations were seen in the amino acid compositions of the different plants and fractions. The concentration of the essential lysine and methionine in the protein concentrate ranged from 6.27 to 6.67 g/16 g N and 1.54 to 2.09 g/16 g N for lysine and methionine, respectively. For all plants species, total tract digestibility of DM and standardised N digestibility was significantly higher in the protein concentrates (60.8% to 76.5% and 75.4% to 85.0% for DM and N, respectively) compared to pulp (21.2% to 43.4% and 52.1% to 72.5% for DM and N, respectively). Digestibility of lucerne protein concentrate (76.5% and 85.0% for DM and N, respectively) was higher than of the unprocessed plant (39.6% and 74.9% for DM and N, respectively), whereas for red and white clover no difference was found. The amino acids methionine and cysteine were limiting for pigs and broilers in all fractions regardless of plant origin, and low scores were also found for lysine. The study demonstrated great potential of using green plants as a protein source for monogastrics because of high protein content, balanced amino acid composition and high digestibility of DM and N. The effects of processing and protein precipitation were pronounced in lucerne where significantly improved digestibility was observed in the protein concentrate. The results from the study provide valuable and enhanced knowledge to the production of alternative and sustainable protein sources for monogastric feed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1825
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

    Research areas

  • digestibility, fractionation, legumes and grass, monogastric nutrition, rat model

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