Himalayan yak’s milk cheese was made into dog treats by India-based pet food company, Khanal Foods. The company collaborated with more than 6,000 people in India, Nepal and Bhutan to make the treats, according to a press release from Khanal. The yak milk treats are marketed as organic, vegetarian and preservative-free.
Novel ingredients, like yak milk, have grown in popularity as pet food ingredients. Just as people, especially foodies, have come to embrace a wider variety of ingredients on their plates, so too have pet owners started serving non-traditional meats and plants to their dogs and cats. Once unheard of ingredients, including kangaroo, hemp and insects have all found their way into pets’ dishes.
Despite their popularity, not all novel pet food ingredients are the same. The digestibility of nutrients and energy in four novel protein pet food ingredients recently was studied in comparison with four traditional proteins by a team of animal nutritionists and veterinarians. Some of those protein sources turned out to have clear dietary advantages over others.
“Our results demonstrate that a wide variability in quality and digestibility exists among animal-based protein sources,” study co-author and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor, Kelly Swanson, PhD, told Petfood Industry. The Journal of Animal Science published his team's results.
The quantity of a particular nutrient in an ingredient may not reflect what an animal actually gets from the food during digestion. Swanson’s team examined the actual nutrient digestibility and metabolizable energy in pork peptone, calamari, alligator, lamb, venison, chicken and two forms of duck meal.
“Based on amino acid profile, calamari meal and chicken meal seemed to come out the best,” said Swanson. “Based on nutrient digestibility, calamari meal and pork peptone performed the best.
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
Constraints and crises, like those experienced in 2020, help drive innovation and sustainability offers context.