Oats can be used for both ruminants and monogastric animals. They are used as feed for pets, such as cats and dogs, and can be added to animal feeds as a cereal ingredient. The fat content of oats increases the energy content—an essential attribute in horse feeds.
Oats have a high content of fat and are rich in oleic and linoleic acids. They contain B1, B2 & B6, and A, K & E vitamins. Further they include valuable minerals, micronutrients, antioxidants, and sterols. The fatty acid content of oats is more beneficial than the ones present in other cereals. Compared to barley or maize, oats have 1%–3% more crude protein. Also, when compared to the other cereals, oats have a balanced amino acid composition and a higher concentration of essential amino acids, such as lysine, making it one of the most preferred feed ingredients by livestock farmers.
Oats are available in two forms: dehulled oats and whole oats. Dehulled oats or naked oats significantly improves feed value and palatability since they are well suited for poultry, horses, piglets, and lactating cows due to their high energy content. Among cereals, oats have the highest fat content. The kernel fat content can vary between 2% and 12%. Palmitic, oleic, and linoleic acids form 95% of the fatty acids of oats, while myristic, stearic, and linolenic acids are found in small quantities. Oats contain more oleic acid and less linolenic acid than wheat and barley.
The animal feed industry uses both whole oats and dehulled oats. Oats are extensively used in the Nordic region and the southern parts of the US as feed for domestic animals. Dehulled oats are comparable to corn and wheat as feed.
Oats can be used for both ruminants and monogastric animals. They are used as feed for pets, such as cats and dogs, and can be added to animal feeds as a cereal ingredient. The fat content of oats increases the energy content—an essential attribute in horse feeds. In pet foods, oats prevent allergies and prevent intestine irritation. Oats improve fur shine, reduce diarrhea, and are well suited to avoid gluten absorption disorders.
FIGURE 1 WORLD OAT TRADE DATA GLOBALLY, (MILLION TONS), 2000–2015 Source: Comtrade and analysis by oatinformation.com
Oats helps increase milk production, largely due to their high-fat content and nutrition rich content. Due to this, the demand for oats is rising in the cattle feed industry.
One of the benefits from the consumption of naked oats and naked/low lignin husked oat mix by animals is the reduced methane emissions. Oats are increasingly being used as a substitute for high energy content cereals, such as barley and corn. Owing to this, the demand for oats as a feed ingredient is rising. Hence, all these factors have led to a high growth rate of the oats feed ingredients market.
Oat grain is good dietetic food for young ruminants because of its high hull and fiber content. It is recommended that a small quantity be fed during the suckling period to habituate young ruminants with the consumption of forages and develop their rumen. The presence of a larger amount of cellulose in the grain coat dilutes the nutritive energy value of oats as compared with barley; for instance, oat grains can be used in a quantity of 4–8 kg in the daily ration of horses, up to a third of ruminant rations, but should not exceed 15%–20% in the feed of pigs and poultry.
Fodder oats are grown for whole plant use for grazing, green forage, silage or hay, and grain. They are often used in mixture with legumes for forage production. The straw is essential bedding for livestock, as well as good roughage. The growing of whole-crop oats gives livestock farmers the opportunity to have additional forage resources in dry summer weather when the yield from conventional forage crops is restricted.
Oats are used as feed ingredients for animals such as horses, cattle, ruminants, sheep, dogs, pigs, and poultry. However, oats as grain and whole-crop have a lower nutritional value than maize and some cereals and cannot meet the energy requirements of high-yielding animals. This is one of the leading causes for the decrease in oat areas on a global scale.
According to the USDA Food and Agriculture Organization (US FAO), oats rank sixth/seventh by area and have global importance after wheat, maize, rice, barley, and sorghum. In Europe, oats are grown in the largest area, followed by North America, which ranks second.
Oats—an annual cereal widely grown for grain—are mainly used as food for livestock and to a lesser extent for humans. Whole-crop oats are a good source of forage and various farmers use them as hay, silage, or pasture for cattle and sheep. Oats grew to importance because of their suitability for feeding horses and are the preferred grain feed for horses.
According to the report published by the Finnish Cereal Committee and financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland currently holds the highest share in the oats-producing countries. Oats account for more than a quarter of all grains produced in Finland. In Europe, countries such as Belarus, Finland, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, and Norway are significant oat producers catering to animal feed.
In Europe, the same varieties of oats, which used for grains are also used as fodder. They are the preferred companion crop for peas and vetch because of their coarse stems. Oats are most important in cold, northern countries. They retain their importance as winter fodder in Mediterranean climates, where they may first be grazed and then grown on for grain. Oats have adequate soluble carbohydrates to make good silage; however, they are challenging to consolidate for providing good anaerobic conditions for ensiling.
According to the US FAO, the food industry in North America uses approximately 110 million bushels of oats, approximately 90% being grown in Canada. Oats for grain and forage or fodder are grown on over 1.8 million hectares in Canada and 800,000 hectares in the US.
Asia Pacific currently holds the highest share in the market for oats feed ingredients. The increase in population, the rise in disposable incomes, progressive urbanization in Asia Pacific, and an increase in the demand for quality meat products have, in turn, spurred the need for starter feed, such as oats, in the region. China—one of the largest producers—contributes to the region’s leading position with substantial growth witnessed in India, Japan, Vietnam, and Pakistan due to the increase in buying power of the population and the demand for protein-rich meat diets. Pork and poultry are widely consumed in Asia Pacific. The poultry industry is estimated to increase in India and China due to the rising population, the increasing purchasing power, and the change in consumer preferences, leading to a rise in the demand for starter feed. Asia Pacific is heterogeneous, with diversity in income levels, technology, and demands for end consumers to provide better quality feed to livestock, leading to enhanced scope for future growth. South Korea and Malaysia are mature and stable markets and use modern techniques for production.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE INDUSTRY?
The increasing demand for oats (Avena sativa) is attributed to the rising awareness among farm producers of oats’ benefits as a feed ingredient in the global animal feed ingredients market. The demand for oats as a feed ingredient is rising due to various factors, such as oats are used as a replacement for barley and wheat feed, are highly nutritious, and are available in naked and whole oat form. They also reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the environment.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Science, the preliminary 2018/2019 forecasts for harvest area and yield will be reduced due to drought-damage in Eastern Australia and early dryness in Western Australia. The global oat trade is down 400,000 tons to 2.1 million tons, with lower supplies in Australia and the European Union. There has been a rise in Asian oat production, oat imports, and consistent use of oats in feed and food, seed, and industrial consumption, and this trend is expected to continue. China is the fastest-growing market for oats and imports will continue to increase over the next five years making it the hotspot for oat feeds.
Oats quickly become the most preferred starter feed in the livestock industry with the growing demand from countries such as Russia, Canada, Poland, and Australia.