Alaska fish byproducts as a feed ingredient for reindeer

Alaska fish byproducts as a feed ingredient for reindeer

G. Finstad, C. Bucki, G. Aguiar, E. Wiklund, and P.J. Bechtel

Alaska fish byproducts as a feed ingredient for reindeerThis is part of A Sustainable Future: Fish Processing Byproducts
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A high protein ration must be fed to intensively farmed reindeer to support rapid tissue growth, in interior Alaska in the summer. The Alaska fishing industry generates fish meals, which are priced competitively with imported protein supplements. However, the palatability of diets containing fish meal, reindeer growth and performance when fed fish meal diets, and meat quality of reindeer fed a ration using fish byproducts are unknown. Several studies evaluated a milled reindeer ration supplemented with Alaska fish meals, for palatability, effects on antler and body growth, and meat quality and flavor. In a free-choice preference trial, reindeer consumed significantly more soybean meal–based ration than either a whitefish meal or salmon meal–based ration, a difference that declined during the course of the study. In performance trials, feed conversion efficiency was significantly higher for animals fed a whitefish meal–based diet than a salmon meal diet, and there was no significant difference in body weight gain or in dry matter intake. When whitefish meal was compared to soybean meal in the diet, there was no difference in body weight or carcass and meat characteristics, and no "fish-related" flavor was identified in taste panel studies. When a whitefish meal–based diet and whitefish meal plus bone meal diet were compared, the bone meal group had numerically greater dry matter intake, antler base circumference, and antler beam length than non-supplemented animals, but the differences were not significant. In conclusion, when reindeer consumed rations based on fish byproducts as the protein source, they demonstrated good performance with no negative effects on meat quality or meat flavor.

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