Fish Byproduct Chitosan Holds Promise as Cow Feed Additive

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In Brazil, researchers have examined the impact of supplementing beef cattle feed with chitosan, a byproduct of the fishing industry.

The work aimed to evaluate whether adding variable levels of chitosan into the animals’ diets would affect “total apparent digestibility, ruminal fermentation, microbial protein synthesis, nitrogen utilization, and urea and creatine metabolism of grazing beef steers.”

The results were favorable, with the researchers recommending 900 mg of chitosan per kilogram of concentrate for grazing steers. “Chitosan effects on [dry matter] intake are likely related to both greater impact of [crude protein] and higher [dry matter], [natural detergent fiber], and [crude protein] digestibility,” they said.

The researchers also theorized that that chitosan’s antibacterial activity stems from its positive charge. It binds to the negatively charged surfaces of bacteria, altering permeability and, ultimately, leading to cell death.

The work was published in the Journal of Animal Feed Science and Technology.