Moringa: An Alternative Protein Source For Animal Feed

The demand for meat products worldwide has been rising steadily for the last few decades. This includes the demand for poultry, fish, and livestock products. According to FAO, meat demand in 2019 was 325 million tons. To sustain a meat demand of over 300 million tons annually means a lot of meat production. This directly affects animal feeds.

The increasing demand for animals and constant food production will create a shortage. Do note that 30% of animal feeds are grain content. Of these grains, 90% is soybean because of proteins. To mitigate cost and scarcity, researchers are going to moringa protein powder as an alternative ingredient.

What is Moringa Oleifera?

Moringa is a plant that grows naturally in tropical and subtropical zones. The plant has been used for many years in treating a range of health problems. However, continued research has shown that it is one of the healthiest plants on the planet. It is rich in almost all the essential nutrients, including crude proteins, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. However, it is the moringa proteins that are attracting interest in animal feed.

Moringa Nutrition Content

Moringa oleifera is classified as a superfood because of its high nutritional content. It is a good source of six major nutrients – proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals, and lipids. The unique thing about the plant is the low-fat content despite high protein, fibre, and carbs.

A dry moringa leaves powder has a protein content ranging from 23-30.3%, while carbohydrates are at 63-% to 69. The crude fibre is about 6%, which is low but the same as soybean and palatable for animals. Moringa is also rich in ash content, which is about 12%, which is higher than soybean and corn.

Moringa leaves contain about 7.09% lipids, with 57% of fatty acids being unsaturated fatty acids. Of the fatty acids content, Alpha-linolenic acid is 44.57%. The plant is also very rich in amino acids, which are estimated to be 16-19%.

Moringa is also rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and many metabolites. However, the high crude protein content is the main ingredient animal feed manufacturers are going for.

Moringa Dietary Application On Animal Feed And Effects

moringa vegetableOn the dietary application, moringa oleifera is fed to animal feed in many ways. Some farmers are feeding animals with fresh and dried moringa leaves. Farmers are also learning now how to make moringa powder to boost protein levels in animal feeds. Moringa seeds residue from oil extraction is being fed to animals.

The volume of the moringa in animal feed depends on various factors such as animal species and age. The amount of moringa powder needed on rabbits is not the same for pigs. Similarly, mature pigs require larger content of moringa compared to 50 days old piglets.

Effect On Non-Ruminants

The main non-ruminants are poultry and pork, and moringa has a varying effect on both. Studies have shown that feeding broiler chicken moringa improves bowel health, which is crucial for the chicken to gain weight. The bioactive compounds in moringa balance intestinal microflora, subsequently improving chicken’s bowel health. Studies also show an improvement in the health of the broiler chicken.

On the layers, moringa feed was found to improve laying performance and egg quality. Most important to note is an increase in egg size and egg weight. An improvement in egg nutrition is another element noted after adding moringa leaves powder to layers’ feed. Studies also show an increase in the span of laying eggs for layers fed with moringa. This means a farmer can keep the chicken for a little longer.

Moringa plants have a great effect on the pig. Studies show that moringa improves the quality of pig feed, which then improves pork’s quality. Pigs fed on finisher that has about 5% moringa shows a positive feeding conversion ratio. Studies have also shown that moringa feed showed faster growth in piglets. Piglets fed on feed containing moringa adds weight faster than piglets feed on the typical meal.

The quality of the pork from pigs fed on moringa is better. That’s because apart from the proteins, there many bioactive components in the supplement. A good example is the increasing amount of unsaturated fatty acids in pig meat. That’s the kind of effect the moringa has on pigs.

Cows on meadow with green grass. Grazing calves

Effect On Ruminants Animals

Ruminants meat is the most demanded across the world. In fact, most households must add meat to their diet. Beef ranks as the most demanded meat, but mutton and others are equally in high demand. Studies shows feeding ruminants with moringa feed produces a good feeding conversion ratio.

The animal adds weight fast, and the quality of the meat is significantly improved. It has also been proven that moringa improves the health and the immunity of the animals. The maturity time for the ruminants fed with feed containing moringa has also been found to be shorter. These are just some of the major effects of moringa oleifera on ruminant animals.

Effects On Aquatic Animals

Moringa is now widely being used in aquaculture, and the results have been impressive. Fish fed with at least 13% moringa have shown faster growth than others fed with typical feed. From the size and net weight, these fish are big in all aspects. Moringa fed fish contains a higher level of carcass lipid and protein because moringa is rich in both nutrients.

Moringa fish feed has also been found to improve fish immunity. The bioactive components in moringa are believed to cause an increase in white blood cells and red blood cells in fish. This is how the health of fish is improved. Last but not least effect of moringa in fish is better quality and healthier fish meat.

Conclusion

Moringa oleifera is a perfect protein alternative for animal feed. But the plant offers more than just proteins. There are many other nutrients, minerals, and bioactive compounds that make animals healthier. In addition to that, moringa helps to reduce the cost of animal feed. Farmers can also grow the plant and make cheap moringa leaves powder at home.

Interested in more posts about animals? See our previous post on why not to ride elephants.

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