18 July 2018 | Online since 2003


9 April 2013

Home grown Lupins – a future soya replacement?


With soya prices escalating and a South American dockers strike creating problems to the shipping and huge subsequent time delays, it’s time for UK poultry farmers to look at other forms of a UK produced sustainable protein supply.

Which is exactly what scientists at Aberystwyth University are doing in collaboration with a group of industry partners. They embarked last year on a research project looking at Lupins as an alternative to soya in poultry, ruminant and aquaculture diets.


Lupins are a high protein, high energy, nitrogen-fixing grain legume with a protein and oil composition that can effectively compete with imported soya -that’s what researchers and partners at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University are out to prove. They have identified that the smaller narrow leafed (blue) and yellow lupins could prove to be an effective soya replacement in animal feeds.

In July 2012 the first of four poultry layers feed trials began at IBERS on a flock of Bovan browns kindly donated by Joice and Hill. The birds were sixteen week old POL pullets, so a growth phase and subsequent laying phase could be studied.


The second experiment began last December with a new flock of Bovans but this time the soya replacement was derived from a yellow lupin.

The third experiment due to start this summer will then use the best performing lupin variety from the first two experiments to determine the most effective inclusion rate for the lupin in the feed, this is known as the titration study.

The results of the experiments at IBERS will form the basis of the feed ration for a commercial feed trial on a flock of three thousand Bovans and Amberlinks at Birchgrove Eggs in Trawsgoed staring late summer.

Tony Burgess of Birchgrove Eggs who is the lead industry partner in this research project says ‘I, like all other poultry farmers in the UK, am desperate to try to find protein alternatives to imported soya which has become so expensive and doesn’t tick the box for future food security or shorter supply chains. Lupin can be grown in the UK and has the added benefits for cereal farmers of fixing nitrogen, thus helping to reduce fertilser requirements on a rotational basis.

This research will look at aspects of growing lupin here in the UK and the findings will be widely disseminated in time to enable maximum potential of this crop to be achieved from not only growing it but also to maximize its potential in a feed diet. Initial results in the feed trials are looking extremely positive and our commercial trial later in the year hopes to replace up to 100% of soya protein in the feed with Lupin. If successful this will hopefully revolutionise this industry’s reliance on imported soya. Tony will be holding an open day at Birchgrove in the autumn to reveal the commercial trials initial results.

This three year, business-led project brings together ten industrial partners and two research research institutes (Birchgrove Eggs, Alltech, Alvan Blanch, Ecomarine, Germinal Holdings, Kelvin Cave, Soya UK, The Arable Group (TAG), Wynnstay and the Universities of Aberystwyth and Plymouth).

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