Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of livestock production worldwide, growing in large part because production is switching to more intensive, higher input systems. The main input is feed, which offers tremendous opportunities for aquafeed manufacturers and associated product suppliers. It also presents significant challenges to all sectors of the industry.
The protein content in commercial aquafeed, while differing for various species, is much higher than those for domestic animals, ranging from 30% to more than 50% protein by dry weight. Fish meal has traditionally been a major protein source in aquafeeds because of its protein quality and palatability. However, increasing demand, high cost and uncertain availability, finding an alternative protein source has become a major focus of research from the viewpoint of producing a stable supply of commercial aquafeeds at a reduced price. In addition, the need to formulate diets which minimize phosphorous (P) excretion for fish and consequent eutrofication of waters requires replacement of fish meal with low-P protein sources.
Soybean is considered to be one of the most suitable and economical candidates for replacing fish meal in commercial aquafeeds. It has been identified as having the best amino acid profile of all protein-rich plant feedstuffs for meeting the essential amino acid requirements of fish (Lovell, 1991). On the negative side, the sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cystine are generally considered to be most limiting in soybean products compared to the quantitative amino acid requirements of most fish species (NRC, 1993). It is however the presence of antinutritional factors (ANFs) that limits its use in crude and processed forms in aquafeeds.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Lourens de Wet.