Faba beans (Vicia faba) or as they are more commonly known, Field Beans, have been cultivated and used as a valuable source of energy and protein in both farm animal and human diets for centuries. Indeed, they compare very favourably with cereals as a source of energy and protein for ruminant animals (1.18 UFL and 24 to 28% Cr. Protein) (Ref UCD Net Energy tables).
Ireland, and indeed the EU in general, has for a long time, been deficient in sources of protein for both human and animal feed. To satisfy the demand we see huge tonnages of high protein feeds products of such as, Soyabean, Maize Gluten, Palm Kernal & Rapeseed meal being imported each year (22 million tonnes in 2008). Most of these imported animal feedstuffs are by-products of various food and non-food industries and as such have been tampered with one way or another to varying degrees.
Early on in the development of our Animal feed business we identified a real gap in the supply chain for an unadulterated, home grown, high quality protein source to compliment and balance our locally produced cereals. We set about trying to find a protein crop that could be grown in Ireland and after a few years of growing and feeding trials on local farms we found all the answers we were looking for in the plant/crop Vicia Faba… otherwise known as the Field Bean.
We have now perfected the propagation, storage and utilisation of Field Beans in Animal Feeds in Ireland and would be widely seen as pioneers of the crop in this country.