Honors Gallery

Starch Analysis and Application for Animal Feeds and Pet Foods

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2018

Award Type: National

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Midwest Area

A comprehensive, holistic approach was used by USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA ARS) Midwest Area in the technology transfer of a new laboratory method for analysis of starch in animal feeds and pet foods, as well as the information necessary for successful intended use of these values for on-farm diet formulation.

The targeted audiences were diverse: analysts in commercial, research, feed company, and regulatory laboratories who will use the starch method; regulators who will use the starch values for determining the accuracy of feed and pet food labeling; professional animal nutritionists, animal industry professionals, veterinarians, dairy farmers, university animal nutrition research and extension personnel and students who need an understanding of how to work with starch as compared to other carbohydrates in formulating diets to promote health and desired production in dairy cattle, and who also need a system for interpretation of on-farm animal responses to the diets to determine whether there is a need for reformulation.

Dr. May Beth Hall used technology transfer approaches as varied as her audiences. Peer-reviewed papers and hands-on laboratory workshops were directed towards professional analysts and the academic community.

Nearly 40 local, state, national, and international presentations differed by forum and topic to address each of the targeted audiences. Dr. Hall’s consultations with more than 200 contacts initiated by email or phone provided an audience directed avenue for technology transfer. Dr. Hall’s efforts in achieving Final Action for the starch assay as Official Method 2014.10 from the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) International gave another form of technology transfer: publication in the AOAC International Official Methods of Analysis. This allows the starch assay to be used by regulators to assure consumers that labeling provides accurate information on starch content of pet foods and animal feeds.

The paper which gave initial recommendations on the starch assay received the Web of Science “Highly Cited Paper” designation, indicating its use by researchers. Other benefits include the extensive use of starch analyses in the field for animal diet formulation. Three commercial feed analysis laboratories reported using the starch assay to analyze 1,426,265 samples in 2017, evidence that the animal industries find the analysis of value, and laboratories find the assay acceptable for their use.

The ability to accurately measure starch in feeds, properly formulate for starch in dairy cattle diets and interpret on-farm animal responses to diets have played a substantial role in improved diet formulation, increased animal production, and reduced incidence of diet-related health disorders. Conservatively, even valued at half of the observed improvement, the value to the U.S. dairy industry is approximately $49 million per year from reduced culling, increased milk production, and improved animal well-being.

Contact; Dr. Mary Beth Hall, (608) 890-0078, [email protected]