Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Galway seaweed harvesters extend their reach with licence for Australia

Tom Gilmore

Seaweed harvested off the coast of Galway is being processed and exported as a feed ingredient for salmon, pigs, sheep and pets all over the world.

Powdered seaweed produced by Ocean Harvest Technology at a plant in the village of Milltown is exported to Canada, the UK, Scandinavia and Asia and the firm has just secured a licence to sell its product in Australia.

Set up in 2010, Ocean Harvest is owned by Dutch native marine biologist Dr Stefan Kraan and his business partner, Patrick Martin from Dundalk.

The pair's initial business success was in producing seaweed powder as an ingredient in food for farmed salmon.

However, the company has recently expanded into the area of feed ingredients for other livestock and pets.

It now employs 10 people at its Galway plant and runs a sister plant in Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam.

"After our success in the aquaculture sector we decided to look at agriculture and we saw that the pig industry has massive markets all over the world, especially in China," said Dr Kraan.

"We ran our trials regarding adding the seaweed to pig feed from weaning stage to fattening stage and the results were stunning.

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"Pigs had less mortality, fewer health issues and they quickly gained weight.

"When I went with a vet to the slaughter plant and he took gut samples, we saw that by stimulating good bacteria and suppressing the bad bacteria the animal can take in more nutrients from the feed. That means we have less disease. We also saw a huge improvement in the lean meat with less fat, and the meat sent to a testing panel had better juiciness and flavour," he added.

The company has also been very successful with its seaweed additive for feed for horses and cattle.

Cattle farmer Johnny Herwood, from Knockdoe, Co Galway, claims the powdered seaweed helped his calves fight infection and resulted in stronger calves. "Where I see it as being best is in the finishing off of cattle," he added.

Irish Independent