Commercial farm trial
Optimum Omega Nutrition diet results in improved filet quality and fish health benefits at no cost to marine footprint
Thanks to our collaboration with a Chilean salmon farmer and Skretting, we were able to test our Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) concept on a commercial scale on more than 600 thousand fish for the first time, demonstrating the effects of higher levels of EPA & DHA on fish immune health, performance, and product quality.
At Veramaris, we knew that the benefits of higher EPA & DHA levels were measurable under controlled conditions, but our focus was on translating scientific concepts into commercial reality. We were confident our Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) guidelines would lead to better outcomes in commercial farming conditions, but we needed to test the concept in a real-world situation. That was the basis of our collaboration with a Chilean salmon farmer — to conduct an on-farm trial using Skretting feed alongside Veramaris algal oil.
Boosting EPA & DHA levels in a real-world setting
The study used Veramaris algal oil in Skretting feed to deliver optimum nutrition into the diets of Atlantic salmon in Chile under commercial conditions. With the study, we wanted to investigate the impact of algal oil and the Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) guidelines on fish health, welfare and quality outcomes. The study was an opportunity to see if the approach could de-risk the farmer’s supply chain with less reliance on wild-capture forage fish as a source of fish oil.
The scope of the study was large, with approximately 600,000 fish observed. The fish were fed two diets: a standard diet containing 6% EPA & DHA of total fatty acids and the Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) diet containing 10% of total fatty acids. The study had its limitations, as the feeding period was shorter than originally planned.
Side by side comparison in one site location.
Cages and fish
Total EPA & DHA content, targets
Filet quality and fish health gains with Optimum Omega Nutrition
How did the fish perform on the two diets? The nutritional and physical quality gains of the Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) group led to higher quality filets despite the shorter feeding period. The filets from this group contained 50% more EPA & DHA than those from the standard group. In terms of physical quality, 27% more of the OON group scored 24 or above on the SalmoFan scale, indicating better pigmentation.
The study found that the Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) diet resulted in better fish health, as indicated by the Quantidoc Verribar measure of robustness, when compared with the control group. The measure also examined the mucosal barrier status with the OON group, showing a subtle positive effect on gill mucosal parameters but no effect on skin mucosal parameters.
These gains were achieved with no change to the marine footprint, securing sustainable salmon production growth without increasing the environmental impact.
Overall, the study showed that a diet containing 10% EPA & DHA of total fatty acids improves biological outcomes, increases farm productivity and ultimately delivers a higher premium quality product.
Better fillet quality, with the same footprint.
Deposition of EPA & DHA in the fillet
EPA & DHA g/100g fillet
Physical quality: Pigmentation
Marine Footprint: FFDRoil
Translating theory into business benefits
There were some limitations in terms of duration and sample size, which we would address in our Big Data study with Manolin. Nevertheless, our study demonstrated the benefits of Optimum Omega Nutrition (OON) in a commercial salmon farm setting. We saw how an increased EPA & DHA diet for Atlantic salmon can improve the performance of the fish in commercial farming conditions, as well as their overall health without increasing the environmental footprint.
The benefits of this are potentially wide-ranging. Farmers can significantly increase their production value, while consumers can access healthier food at a reduced environmental cost.
We hope that the outcomes from this study can help feed managers to quantify the return on investment for fortifying salmon feed with Optimum Omega Nutrition.
Find out more
The results of this study were presented at AquaNor Conference in Trondheim, August 2023.
Watch the video to learn more.