Microalgae as feed ingredients for livestock production and meat quality
This article in the journal Livestock Science unveils the dietary microalgae effects currently known on production and meat quality of livestock species (ruminants, pigs, poultry and rabbits). These small-sized algae, have been studied as a natural marine resource for a number of economically relevant applications, including animal feed. Research evidence so far has shown that the inclusion of microalgae in animal diets could improve growth and meat quality in ruminants, pigs, poultry and rabbits. These findings are highly dependent on microalgae own composition and their amount in the diet. The use of microalgae as feed ingredients is very promising as an alternative to corn and soybean, thus mitigating the current competition among food-feed-biofuel industries. In addition, they contribute for the protection of environment and natural resources, namely land degradation and water deprivation. Microalgae also provide a sustainable alternative for n−3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n−3 LCPUFA) availability, thus protecting worldwide fatty fish stocks. However, the cost-effective production and use is a major challenge in the near future. In fact, the current cultivation technology should be improved to reduce their production costs. Overall, the inclusion of microalgae in feed represents a very promising strategy for the maintenance and development of livestock sector, as an environmental friendly alternative to balance food-feed-biofuel industries.