prof. dr. ir. Fievez Veerle
While Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are good for human health, cows that consume this food supplement produce lower fat milk – just one of our conclusions from our study of the rumen as a fermenter.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for human health, but for cows being fed with this food supplement the effect is astonishing: they start producing semi-skimmed milk! When eating algae and fish oil, microbes in the rumen create a substance that reduces fat synthesis. This substance is already being used in products that counteract the storage of fat in humans. The rumen is the first of four stomachs and the microbial reactions in it enable cows to convert grass into high-quality feed. During the various stages of digestion 'in between' products are formed: the intermediary metabolites. It has been proven that some of these metabolites have very favourable properties. Currently, we are identifying more substances and are testing their usefulness.
Next to its natural function as part of the digestive system of the cow, the rumen can also be seen as a fermenter: a 'tool' that creates highly interesting components that can be used in a wide variety of applications.