Post-Extraction Algal Residue as a Protein Source for Cattle Consuming Forage
Four studies were conducted to evaluate the potential for post-extraction algal residue (PEAR) to be incorporated as a protein source in the grazing sector of the beef cattle industry. In Experiment 1, blends of PEAR and conventional protein supplements (dried distillers? grains, DDG; cottonseed meal, CSM) were offered to steers consuming Bermudagrass to evaluate palatability of PEAR. Supplement completion, time required for consumption, and amount of supplement consumed were recorded. In Experiment 2, isonitrogenous amounts of PEAR and CSM (100 mg N/kg BW) were supplemented to steers consuming low-quality forage to compare effects on nutrient utilization. Experiment 3 evaluated the optimal inclusion rate of PEAR to steers consuming low-quality forage. Treatments included no supplemental protein, 3 levels of PEAR (50, 100, and 150 mg N/kg BW) and 1 level of CSM (100 mg N/kg BW). In Experiment 4, the effects of upstream operations on the nutritive value of PEAR were quantified.
Observations indicate PEAR may be blended with existing protein sources in the beef industry without negatively affecting palatability, but there may be palatability concerns when PEAR is offered alone. Provision of 100 mg N/kg BW of PEAR or CSM stimulated forage intake (P ? 0.05) and increased N retention (P = 0.02) relative to unsupplemented animals. Imbalances in mineral intakes (Ca:P ratio of 8:1) were observed when PEAR was supplemented, but not CSM. Total digestible OM intake (TDOMI) responded quadratically (P = 0.01) to increasing provision of PEAR with maximization occurring when PEAR was provided at 100 mg N/kg BW. There was not a difference in TDOMI (P = 0.13) at isonitrogenous levels of PEAR and CSM, indicating forage utilization was stimulated to a similar extent. Excess mineral levels and imbalances in PEAR were largely a result of cultivation, harvesting, and extraction procedures which could be controlled. Thus, there is potential to alter production streams to optimize oil yield and co-product value. Overall, our results indicate PEAR can be incorporated as a protein source in the beef cattle industry, thus increasing economic viability of biofuel production from algal biomass.