Foods of Norway’s research aims to improve feed resource utilization for fish and livestock species. So far, the research has uncovered the existence of individual genetic variation in digestibility in salmon and has also demonstrated genetic variation in metabolic efficiency in the fish, which is estimated to have a close to perfect genetic correlation to feed efficiency.
Stable isotopes have been used to study the connection between microbiota, growth and feed efficiency in salmon. This knowledge has been transferred to sheep, as a model for larger ruminants. This approach is the foundation for GENO’s project on feed efficiency in dairy cows which was funded in 2021.
Feed accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of the variable costs in livestock production, making feed efficiency an important and highly relevant research area. The situation has improved over the years, through genetic improvements such as indirect selection and by direct selection for increased production. Direct selection for improved feed efficiency is one of the overall goals of Foods of Norway’s current research.
Calculations show that a one per cent improvement in feed efficiency in the Norwegian salmon industry can mean savings of more than NOK 200 million. A higher level of feed efficiency will also contribute to a smaller climate footprint for the livestock industry thanks to lower production of CO2 and CH4.