Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark are in the midst of an experiment on a commercial organic farm to test the feasibility of replacing fish meal with mussel meal in diets fed to laying hens.
Researchers with the Aarhus departments of animal science and food science are testing either mussel meal with the shell or deshelled mussel meal in terms of the resulting egg production and egg quality from the laying hens.
The two types of mussel meal are produced using two different processing methods, Aarhus said, explaining that deshelled mussel meal is 100% free of shells, while mussel meal with the shell has a strongly reduced shell fraction (almost, but not 100%, shell free).
The experiment, which started in May and runs until September, involves six houses with outside access, each housing 36 hens, Aarhus said. There are two replicas per treatment.
The researchers collected zero-measurement egg samples before the experiment started, and they will take egg samples several times during the experimental period to analyze egg quality, the university said. Feeding birds the experimental diets was initiated in mid-May.
The project will involve two other feeding experiments with pigs: one to test the growth performance of organic piglets fed deshelled mussel meal, and one where researchers will look at the feed intake pattern of weaned pigs fed mussel meal or mussel silage.
The experiment is part of the MuMiPro project, led by Danish Shell Centre, DTU Aqua. MuMiPro aims to develop a new way of farming mussels, with a goal of mitigating negative effects of nutrient overloading in coastal waters. The harvested mussels will be upcycled into feed for monogastrics like pigs and poultry, Aarhus said.
More information on the project can be found online at http://www.mumipro.dk.