Managing forage shortage crises with forest by-products

Last changed: 29 April 2021
An SRB cow peeking out from behind a tree. Photo.

The aim of the project is to provide solutions for using unprocessed or nutritionally upgraded forest by-products as ruminant feed during forage shortage crises.

The 2018 dry spell in Sweden demonstrated the difficulties in feed supply that can be caused by extraordinary weather. Ruminants have a need for forage like pasture grass, silage, hay or straw to maintain their rumen function. Even if concentrate feeds can contribute with extra energy in such situations, forage shortage cannot be resolved only by that, there is also an explicit need for feed that provides structure. One possibility is to use forest by-products from sidestreams in the forest industry. There are large amounts of bark and wood spillage available from the pulp and timber industry as well as from the matchstick industry.

Wood byproducts. Photo.

By-products from the matchstick industry. 1 = Aspen wood chips; 2 = Intermediate fraction wood/bark of aspen; 3 = Aspen bark


If the forest by-products only are regarded as a means of meeting the dietary structure requirement, a range of different by-products would most likely be possible to use with no processing except for chopping. The energy requirement has then to be covered from extra concentrate allaocation. However, there are ways to improve the digestibility of forest products so that more energy is provided to the animal. During World War 2, "wooden oats" was produced on an industrial scale in Sweden, but there are also methods that nowadays could be used directly on the farm with the same equipment that commonly is used for mixing rations and for handling grains.
We will in this project study methods that can be taken into use directly, but also novel processes from the biofuel sector and the food industry that are potential energy efficient ways of upgrading the nutritional value of forest by-products.

Project leader:

Torsten Eriksson,

Project group:

Horacio Gonda, Bengt-Ove Rustas, Maud Langton (Inst. f. molekylära vet.), Ola Wallberg (LTH), Egil Prestløkken (NMBU)



The project is funded by Formas and runs until 2023.