Jatropha and its merit as animal feed

Climate change and predicted shortages of fossil fuels present major challenges. Currently, biofuel production is from agricultural crops grown primarily on arable land. Conflict with the traditional use of arable land, itself a limited resource, to produce food and animal feed must be avoided and economic sustainability assured. At present cereals, especially maize and wheat, and sugar cane are used for ethanol production, with soybean, oil palm and rapeseed for biodiesel production.

To sustain the rapidly growing animal industry, alternate feeds sources is the need of the hour. Cellulosic material, often available from sub-prime land with minimal inputs, and other non-conventional sources are being investigated. Before being used as feeds, some seeds and cakes will require detoxification. The contribution of micro-algae, production of which can be achieved in coastal waters, is likely to grow in importance. These developments are mirrored the broadening of the animal species receiving the co-products, from ruminants, especially cattle, and pigs to poultry and fish (aquaculture). Further developments include enhancement of the use of existing co-products and the introduction of new ones.

One such new product can be Jatropha, a non-toxic genotype of the plant that offers the potential to be used as protein source, according to Harinder P. S. Makkar, Livestock development officer at FAO, Rome.

Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) is known to be an oil plant generally possessing with toxic seeds. However, a non-toxic genotype of J. curcas exists is grown in Mexico. Its seeds are consumed by people after roasting. Kernel paste is used in local dishes in Mexico.

Studies at University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany showed that the non-toxic jatropha seeds do not possess the main toxic agent, phorbol ester, which is present in the toxic jatropha seeds.

The amino acid composition of jatropha kernel meal and soymeal is similar except lysine which is lower and the sulphur-containing amino acids cystine and methionine which are higher in the jatropha kernel meal.

Constraints in utilization of non-toxic jatrophas as animal feed

Presence of lectins and trypsin inhibitors and their levels are almost similar to those in the toxic variety. But the anti-nutrients are heat labile and can be destroyed by heat treatment.

Phytate content in jatropha kernels meal is around 9%, which is almost three times higher than that in soymeal. When phytase is added to diets, the heated Jatropha kernel meal from the non-toxic jatropha can replace 50% of fishmeal in the diets of fish (e.g. carp and tilapia) and shrimps and 50% soymeal in diets of growing pigs.

In vivo studies conducted on rats and fish species demonstrate that heated kernel meals from the non-toxic jatropha can be a good substitute for soymeal and fishmeal in animal diets.

The animal feed industry is growing at a rapid pace. The requirement for animal feed will substantially increase as a result of increased demand of animal products, especially from the emerging economies. The main input in any livestock production system is feed. This growth dictates greater use of feed protein sources other than fishmeal or soymeal. Jatropha products from non toxic variety could be one of the candidates to supply a large amount of the protein required for the expanding feed market.

Source: FAO & Feedipedia

ver other feeds,” he added.

There are economic spinoffs from insect-based feed production. For low-oil feed, the unwanted oil in the insect meal could be extracted and used for various applications including biodiesel.

Source: FAO Report