Naturally Better Omega 3 (NBO3) for Livestock

Published on Mon, 06/28/2021 - 2:49pm

Naturally Better Omega 3 (NBO3) for Livestock.

 By Heather Smith Thomas.

 NBO3 Technologies has invested more than 15 years of research in partnership with Kansas State University, to show the efficacy of their proprietary feed system and premium feed.  The goal was to develop an efficient feeding protocol for livestock resulting in better animal performance, meat and dairy products that taste better and are nutritionally better, plus high in the essential fatty acid, Omega-3.

Chance Remington (Chapman, Kansas) is regional sales rep for the company, now marketing a product called Great O, as a high-fat feed additive.  “It is comprised of flax, wheat midds and our own patent pending algae.  Kurt Dieker is our Chief Development Officer who helps oversee our algae farm,” says Remington.

The algae component contains EPA-- a polyunsaturated fatty acid that every animal/human needs in the diet.  “Most of the time the body has to change these into something it can utilize,” he explains.

“Our patent pending algae product added to the feed helps put it into the correct form so it is absorbed more readily and doesn’t just pass on through.  This feed has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids to begin with, and with the alga added, efficiency of use is increased,” he says.

The goal is to balance the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty-acids in the cow’s body.  “By feeding our product, studies show we can do that.  We also see other benefits, including up to 70% reduction in use of antibiotics, a 15 to 30% increase in conception on first-time service in heifers, increased semen motility in bulls, and increased rate of gain,” Remington says.  The body is functioning better.
The cattle are a little more efficient and healthier, and can also be marketed into an all-natural or NHTC program since this is an all-natural product.

The feed additive is primarily marketed as a meal.  “We have a patent pending dried extrusion technology to produce it.  We combine the flax, wheat and algae and extrude it into a meal that producers can incorporate into their feed mix.  We also market it in lick tubs for cattle on pasture.  We can also make it into a pellet, cube, or creep feed” he says. “Where we see a lot of benefit is in weaned calves on pasture, giving them a big boost moving forward.”  If they become accustomed to eating it at weaning they’ll continue to eat it as a supplement on pasture, and gain better and stay healthier.

The product has been tested since 2013 at Kansas State University and on various farms; this is the first year for public sales.  It doesn’t need to be fed in large quantity.  Recommended rate is ½ to 1½ pounds per head per day, depending on size of the animal and production goals.  “If you are finishing 1500-pound feeder steers you’ll feed a little more per head than if feeding weanling calves or heifers on pasture,” he says.

The Great O product is flaxseed based, and Great O Plus is the flax product with algae added.  Producers see a slight increase in various benefits with the algae added.

Kurt Dieker, Chief Development Officer for NBO3 Technologies, runs the algae farm that creates that component of their patent pending feed additive.  His background the past 20 years is technology development--everything from petrochemicals to Director of Technology for ICM (the largest ethanol technology provider in the world).  He has worked extensively with distillers grains, distillers corn oil separation, and other value-added products as livestock feed.

 “Two decades ago amino acid balancing in feed production was minimal, but almost everyone balances them today--to obtain higher performance through healthier diet.  We believe fatty-acid profile is just as important if not more important (because of the energy source) than amino-acid balance, but most people just look at base energy and think calories are calories.  Our research shows that the source of the calories can make a difference,” he explains.

The type of calories affect the ruminant system.  “The rumen flora—the biological system—is what you are feeding when you feed that animal.  A study at University of Nebraska-Lincoln looked at distillers grains and corn oil because when we started extracting oil (an energy source), and using distillers grains the first thought was that since we’re not getting as many calories the distillers grains shouldn’t be worth as much.  UN-L did the first study looking at full-fat distillers grain versus reduced-fat distillers grain, and found that cattle fed reduced-fat distillers grains performed better, even though these were lower in calories.”

Studies found that the higher amount of fat was coating the rumen and hindering conversion.  “Just because you are giving animals more calories doesn’t mean they can convert it to usable energy.  We wanted to make sure we have a balance of what we’re giving them, but ultimately when you have healthier animals you also have higher-performing animals,” says Dieker.
“Animals fed a fatty-acid-balanced diet are healthier—maybe due to better immune response,” he explains.  A stressed animal will be less efficient than a healthy animal with a balanced diet.  

“With cow-calf operations and backgrounders we’re seeing better body condition.  Mama cows rebreed faster because their body condition doesn’t drop as much through the stress of calving and lactation.  Our algae farm manager owns a 600-head cow-calf operation in Kansas, and when I looked at cows that had calved 30 to 50 days earlier I’d never seen cattle that healthy in that stage of their reproductive year.  They’d been receiving this supplement at a rate of less than 5% of their total diet.  Then the question was how to further engineer this for our customers—to get the most value out of the least amount of product,” he says.

“We are doing a trials with Kansas State University to find optimal inclusion rates to get the desired response—both in our flax-based feeds and our algae-added product,” says Dieker.

“With calves, what we see at weaning or when they go to a feedlot is 50 to 80 pounds more per head, though I think we still might be overfeeding omega-3s.  The trials this year are cutting it down again, to see if we can do as well with less--with our more efficient converting feed product,” he explains.

“We not only look at total omega-3 conversion but also polyunsaturated fatty acids (long-chain fatty acids).  Our algae has eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is a reproductive health precursor.  Research at K-State has been done on flax and efficiency of conversion of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is what plant-based omega-3s are, and polyunsaturated fatty-acids (with a conversion rate of less than 10% biologically).  With the algae we are direct-feeding that, and don’t need the biological conversion.  We are giving it directly to the animal,” he explains.

“We’re seeing higher conversion than normal (like 1 plus 1 equals 3); with whatever we feed, natural conversion goes up above and beyond what we feed.  We’re triggering the animal to recognize that this is good for its health and stimulates it to convert more,” says Dieker.

“We also see a change in overall meat quality, based on fatty-acid profile.  Grading of beef we feed consistently through their lives (especially through the end of the feeding process) increases.”  The carcass quality improves.

With healthier animals, fewer antibiotics are needed, and the animals have better meat composition due to a better-balanced diet.  “This leads to healthier beef for consumption. There’s a quality difference from a health benefit--both for the animals and the people eating them--that comes from balancing the diet to simulate what was historically done before feedlots.”

Feedlots are designed to finish cattle in a fast paced, cost effective manner.  Which is why they are generally feeding a more aggressive and high Omega 6 diet.  Before feedlots, when everything was grass-fed, diets were typically 6 (or up to 8) to one omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.  Then we start adding distillers grains and corn to speed growth and make the animal more cost-efficient, but corn has one of the highest omega ratios at 40 to 1 or worse.  Thus feedlots changed the diet from a natural balance of 6 to 1 up to 18 to 25 to 1 and the omega-6 and 9 creates inflammation in joints and leads to digestive issues.”  By enriching the feedlot diet and changing the balance, it brings the ratio back to a more natural situation.

Flax is the opposite of corn; it has more omega-3s than omega-6.  “So if we can balance the diet with a small inclusion of a flax product and get back to a historic pre-industrialized feed, the animal will be healthier,” he explains.

If anyone has questions about the product they can contact Chance Remington directly, at 785-737-7337 or by email at cremington@nbo3.com