Nutrition and feed technology
Feed is more than its purely nutritional content. It also concerns the dynamic needs of farmed fish, the production system of which the fish are one component, and the sustainability of the ingredients. We work to develop knowledge in this field.
Nofima has its own test production facility and several experimental stations, giving us comprehensive opportunities to test feeds in situations that are relevant to the farmed fish. The principal goals of research are to develop feed that secure good growth of the fish and efficient use of the feed ingredients. In order to achieve these goals in all conditions, our scientists study feeds in the context of technology development, breeding, fish health, fish quality and fish welfare.
The work is based on solid knowledge about fish nutritional needs, expertise in the raw materials that satisfy these needs, and production methods for feed. In collaboration with the aquaculture industry, we can develop and apply our knowledge to give functional, cost-effective and sustainable fish feeds that the fish consume and that have a high technical quality.
We work closely together with Norwegian and international actors in the development of fish feeds and feeding methods for the future. Such actors include companies who produce ingredients, feed companies, equipment suppliers and aquaculture associations.
In collaboration with the University of Bergen, Uni Research and the University of Nottingham, Nofima is about to establish a national R&D platform fro development of feed ingredients and feed funded by the Research Council of Norway. Upgrades to the infrastructure will result in four research platforms. These are to:
- develop and optimise ingredients of high nutritional and technological quality
- separate new bioactive components, remove toxic components and develop functional ingredients with added value
- carry out research and development of fish feed, based on extrusion and agglomeration technology (processing and forming of the products)
- characterise the ingredients and end products.
Development leads to a need for further research
Development and growth in the industry create new need for knowledge within nutrition, feed and feed ingredients. We work to satisfy the needs of farmed fish, the aquaculture industry and the environment. We are, for example, working on various strategies to ensure the contents of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in salmon fillets from sustainable sources, and on methods to collect and recycle vital minerals and nutrients from residual raw materials and sludge,
Some of our achievements:
Further down the nutritional chain
Research into feed resources that are not destined to become food for humans directly is undergoing constant development. By harvesting and producing further down the nutritional chain, it is possible to avoid loss of energy between the links in the chain. As much as 90% of the energy is often lost between each link in the nutritional chain. Our scientists, in collaboration with industrial actors, have been central in the development of protein- and oil rich ingredients from single-celled protein sources such as yeast and heterotrophic algae, and from krill.
Fish oil shortage: Omega-3 from other sources
Nofima has used fat cells and liver cells in culture to gain insight into the fat metabolism of fish. The insights gained form the basis for several strategies to ensure the levels of the healthy marine omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in fish. Examples are:
- control of production conditions
- control of the balance between feed ingredients
- developing alternative sources of feed
Fishmeal shortage: plant proteins
Nofima has extensive knowledge about the nutritional needs of fish, not least from its participation in the “Aquaculture Protein Centre” centre of excellence. Knowledge about the amino acids that fish need is important to ensure that the fish utilise the various sources of protein efficiently, and to ensure that the feed is adapted to the needs of the fish through the various stages of its life.
Better understanding of the factors that influence the physical properties of feed
The physical quality of the feed used for Norwegian farmed salmon is extremely important. The ingredients of the feed influence its physical qualities. Nofima has shown, for example, that water-soluble low-molecular weight proteins (small peptides and amino acids) give beneficial properties to fishmeal. Such proteins are pressed out together with water during the manufacture of fish feed, and they have a positive nutritional value. These proteins have good binding properties. When added as process additives, they facilitate the manufacture of fish feed of high physical quality.
One of the strengths of Nofima’s expertise within nutrition and feed technology is its long-term nature. Others are its width and depth, and the tools we have to examine the nutritional needs of farmed fish in the context of production biology.
- Knowledge about the nutritional needs of fish through different life stages
- Development of feeds and feeding strategies
- Knowledge about a wide spectrum of raw materials that give sustainable feeds
- Development of raw materials for feed from residual materials from fisheries, slaughter houses and other marine raw materials (such as krill, algae, and macro algae)
- Development of raw materials for feed from plant raw material and single-celled organisms
- Knowledge about how to preserve nutrients through processing, and gain high pellet quality
- Development of feed for new species in farming (such as wrasse and sea urchins)
- Consumer testing of commercial feeds
- An in-house reference fishmeal and reference feeds, to be used as benchmarks for evaluating feeds
- Transfer of expertise and knowledge to industry.