The application of algae in animal feed seems promising, since many algae species have a high protein content and they could help global agriculture meet its sustainability goals. For instance, there was research done to see if using seaweed in cows’ feed can reduce emissions. And there is also evidence that algae in the form of feed additives can support the immune function of the animal, which contributes to the reduction of antibiotics use.
Algae is divided into 3 groups:
- Green (Chlorophyceae) – 2200 species: Crude protein content 15-22%
- Red (Rhodophyceae) – 6100 species: Crude protein content 18-35%
- Brown (Phaeophyceae) – 1800 species: Crude protein content 9-14%.
Macroalgae are commonly known as seaweed. The word ‘macro’ means big so think of a big plant that can be found in the sea.
Microalgae are often called phytoplankton. As the word micro means small, these plants are smaller than the seaweed plants, so small, that you can’t see them with the naked eye. Microalgae are a potential source of renewable energy, and they can be converted into energy such as biofuel oil and gas.
The nutritional value attributed to macroalgae along with their non-animal nature makes them particularly suitable for use in animal feed as nutraceuticals. Studies have investigated their potential as a natural source of additives that can substitute antibiotic usage in animals.