The Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA) has released the results from one 2018 study it funded.
The study with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on using metabolites as a biological marker for nutritional stress in red drum opens the door to better understand how soybean-formulated diets impact fish growth and feed conversion, SAA said.
The alliance said improving the metabolic fingerprint of red drum based on a closely studied comparison with the best two performing reference diets over a 12-week feed trial provided a number of insights.
For the study, eight unique diets were fed to red drum fish, and liver, intestine, heart, muscle tissue and plasma samples were tested. Results found a metabolic marker in all diets, and fish fed a 60% supplemented soybean meal diet had nearly the same growth, weight and feed conversion as fish fed natural reference diets that included squid, shrimp and fish, SAA said.
This research provides a path for assessing this biological marker and allowing nutritionists to develop feed alternatives within acceptable limits for various fish species without causing nutritional stress, the alliance said.
Ultimately, the marker opens the door to further research for higher and better soybean meal inclusion rates to benefit both the U.S. aquaculture industry and the U.S. soybean farmer.
"Every study we do gives us more information and more credence to believe soybeans are a real opportunity for the U.S. soybean aquaculture industry," said SAA executive director Andy Tauer. "We've been investing for a number of years and every study builds on the one before. We're making real headway now, and seeing the results that will benefit the fish farmer and the soybean farmer alike."
A technical brief about the study has been added to the SAA website.
SAA works to create new opportunities for soybean farmers within a growing domestic market: aquaculture. SAA funds programs and research that increases the utilization of U.S. soybeans in the diets of fish and shrimp through affiliations with academic and private researchers and industry leaders.