PROTEINS from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, New Zealand researchers report.
AgResearch Institute scientists say the positive findings for the diets of domestic cats open up exciting possibilities for new uses of sheep wool to improve digestive health for a broader range of animals, and potentially people.
“There is a lot of work going on to discover new uses of wool to support the sheep industry in New Zealand,” says AgResearch science group leader for
food and bio-based products Jolon Dyer.
“The research is telling us that sheep wool has many useful attributes, and one of those now appears to be proteins derived from the wool that could be used as a dietary supplement to improve digestion and nutrition, and therefore overall health,” he says in a statement.
The findings have been in the journal Food & Function.
The New Zealanders used a method called controlled hydrolysis to extract the wool proteins. The protein hydrolysates taken from the wool were added as an ingredient in a pet food formulation targeted towards cats, and compared against standard cat food formulations.
The findings indicate the wool protein hydrolysates of-fer promise as a functional ingredient in pet foods, and also as a new nutritional ingredient in foods generally.
AgResearch senior scientist Santanu Deb-Choudhury says the hydrolysates offer real potential as a supplement for pet diets.
The next steps will be to study the effect of the wool hydrolysate on animals other than cats.
“There’s a lot of potential in terms of how it can add to the well-being of pets and other animals, and even people, but we do need to see how it stacks up in the further research,” Deb-Choudhury says.