Two New Plymouth teenagers may have found the solution to Eltham's buttermilk problem in the form of chicken feed.
Alton Gondipon and Patrick Fisher-Evans, of Francis Douglas Memorial College, were the overall winners of the 2014 Fonterra Science and Technology Fair after they came up with poultry feed made out of fermented palm kernel cake with waste untreated buttermilk.
The boys aim to run a pilot programme on a commercial scale but it would cost them about $20,000, for machinery and equipment, to get it running.
Alton and Patrick were inspired to see how buttermilk could be used in a sustainable way after reading about Eltham's buttermilk issue in the Taranaki Daily News.
It was about looking at ways of helping Fonterra dispose of its waste buttermilk in "an environmentally sustainable way", utilising "valuable food source" that would otherwise be wasted, the boys said.
"In an increasingly hungry world, any wasted nutrients is a tragedy."
The boys bought nine one-day-old chicks and promised they would not get too attached.
Chicks were split into three groups and fed the special mix in varying amounts. The birds were observed over a six-week period and three were slaughtered and cooked for a taste test.
Alton and Patrick noted the chickens that were fed the palm kernel/buttermilk substance had "much leaner meat" than those on commercial feed.
"The difference in the amount of fat on each bird was noticeable."
Lactic acid present in the boys' feed also brought about a decrease in salmonella activity in the chickens, which was an added plus.
The boys' project has earned them a nomination in Genesis Energy's Realise the Dream awards, a national event recognising the country's top 20 young scientists.
- Taranaki Daily News
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