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NIR analysis ensures nutritional bamboo for Pandas

A video posted on You Tube by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) shows how the Near Infra-red spectrophotometer allows the nutrition team at Edinburgh zoo to rapidly evaluate the nutritional value of various animal feeds.  

RZSS nutritionist, Andy Beer explains how the equipment can test the feeding value of browse (tree and shrub leaf and twig material) fed to browsing herbivores, for example, bamboo forage fed to the zoo’s Pandas. The analysis is important because whereas feed pellets have a declared nutritional value, forage has a variable nutritional content and often this is the largest unknown in the diets of animals kept in zoos and wildlife parks.

A range of parameters such as protein, fat, fibre is provided within minutes or less. This is much faster than the many hours that similar analysis with traditional wet chemistry analysis would take. 

While near infrared is widely used in the animal feed industry, Edinburgh Zoo is currently the only zoo in the UK using the technology. The zoo offers a testing service to others and interest in the service is growing.

The video can be seen here.

A feature article can also be found here in the FOSS In Focus magazine

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