– It’s exciting to work with the feed industry while contributing to further our knowledge in animal nutrition. Doing research for Foods of Norway on sustainable feed that might become available on the market in the future really motivates me, says Ana Cruz.
Foods of Norway is a Centre for Research-based Innovation (CRI). Cruz joined the Centre in 2016 with a Master’s degree in Veterinary Medicine from Portugal. Her PhD is a part of the Research Council of Norway`s industrial PhD programme.
– The whole idea behind the Foods of Norway project is to produce science that is applied and can be used as a basis for innovation. The industrial Ph.D scholarship is therefore a perfect option for any partner in a centre like Foods of Norway, says Knut Røflo, Managing Director of FKF.
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Happy pigs and chickens on a yeast diet?
Foods of Norway aims to reduce Norway`s reliance on imported feedstuffs like soy protein and to increase value creation in the aquaculture and agriculture industries.
An industrial PhD ensures a close collaboration between academia and industry and enables Foods of Norway to be responsive to new research ideas and inventions.
– It also facilitates knowledge transfer to industry and the commercialization of our inventions, says Foods of Norway director, Professor Margareth Øverland.
Cruz is doing research on yeast, one of the novel, sustainable feed ingredients developed by Foods of Norway from natural bioresources like wood, seaweed and animal co-products.
Today, limited knowledge exists about the use of yeast as a protein source in diets for piglets and chickens with regard to growth performance and health.
– We need more knowledge on how yeast as a protein source will affect feed intake, growth rate and feed efficiency of monogastric animals. We also need to determine how yeast affects nutrient digestibility, gut function, health and welfare of the animals, explains Øverland.
PhD student Cruz` main objective is to reduce this knowledge gap by finding out if monogastric animals can grow and thrive on a yeast diet.
– My project will bring us one step forward, Cruz says.
Joining forces to increase food security
Since March 2017, Cruz has conducted trials with piglets and chickens in collaboration with NMBU and the University of Copenhagen. In these trials, she replaced protein from traditional ingredients, such as soybean meal, with microbial protein from yeast derived from Norwegian spruce trees.
– I am learning a lot from the multidisciplinary research team in Foods of Norway. My colleagues are working within a wide variety of research fields, such as fermentation, nutrition, health, genetics etc. Maintaining an open communication line between industry and academia is also valuable for the final outcome of our research, she says.
According to FKF, collaborating with academia allows the company to respond more accurately to market needs.
– Being research-based is not enough. For us, science must be practical and contribute to solving actual problems or provide knowledge that supports new developments. Therefore, applying for an industrial scholarship was an obvious path for us to take, says FKF’s director Røflo.
Cruz and her colleagues are now running statistical analyses of the results from the yeast trials with pigs and chicken. Her first paper will be published in the next few months.
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