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Main research question/goal

The general objective of the KUILLEG project is to assess to which extent legumes can be used as an alternative and regional protein source for organicaly raised laying hens. We mainly focus on faba beans. Are they indeed feasible to use as locally grown protein source for the chickens? And to what extent does the ensiling process of the beans and cereals work favorably against the anti-nutritional factors or ANFs present in the crop? ANFs are substances such as phytate, lectins, oligosaccharides, glucosides and saponins that negatively affect the digestibility or palatability of a feed. An additional goal is to find out to what extent the combination of faba beans and cereals can provide natural control against pests and diseases in the field, to reduce pesticide use.

Research approach

We investigate to what extent the various anti-nutritional factors of field beans are reduced when they are ensiled as moist beans. We examine how the silage quality of a combination crop (faba bean and cereal) can be optimized. In particular, we examine which is the most optimal ratio of field beans and cereals and whether silage additives are needed to optimize the silage quality. Via feed formulation, we determine a maximum mixing percentage in the laying hen's feed. We assess the silage as an alternative feedstuuf in the feed of organic laying hens focusing on nutrient digestibility and N-excretions as well as animal performance and egg quality.


For organic layers, the stricter regulations regarding organic feed are making it necessary to use a maximum of local protein sources in the feed, without sacrificing animal performance and product quality. The project shows the organic egg farmers what the pros and cons are of an easy technique - ensiling - that allows maximum use of local protein sources. The challenge is to obtain a 100% organic feed. Our expectation is that ensiling of crops can help to achieve this goal. At the same time we will know if intercropping of faba beans and cereals leads to more robust, less disease-sensitive crops or not. We will generate data about possibly improved animal health and possibly improved longevity of the hens as a result of using silage. Finally, we expect that the project can form or strengthen new partnerships between agriculturalists and poultry farmers, which would contribute to closing regional/local nutrient cycles.

Funding provider(s)
Vlaamse Overheid

External partner(s)
Hogeschool Gent
Effective start/end date1/10/1730/09/20

ID: 5645640