Krill, these small shrimp-like crustaceans found in all the world's oceans, have become a fascinating subject of study for their wide-ranging health and performance benefits as feed across multiple species.
Aker BioMarine, a pioneer in krill research and sustainability, has been exploring the potential of krill-based supplements like krill meal and oil to enhance athletic performance in dogs, improve fillet quality in farmed fish, and provide resilience to farmed shrimp.
One area of our research that raised huge interest is dog mushing, a challenging sport that tests the physical and mental limits of both dogs and their human handlers. The focus of this research is on the impressive sled dog teams that participate in some of the most demanding races in the world, such as the Iditarod.
Now, before exploring some of the key research findings, let's discover the remarkable story of Thomas Wærner and his extraordinary dogs.
Thomas Wærner and Team Berserk: A remarkable partnership
Thomas's journey in dog mushing began in 2015 with the Iditarod, a legendary long-distance sled dog race in Alaska. His performance earned him the title of Rookie of the Year, sparking his desire to return to the Iditarod.
In 2017, he began feeding his dog team a specially formulated krill-based pet food with QRILL Pet and has continued to do so ever since. This decision has had a profound impact on his dog mushing career, leading to remarkable achievements.
Thomas Wærner went on to win the 2020 Iditarod, securing his place in history as the 57th champion of the Iditarod, and showcasing krill's benefits for canine performance under extreme conditions. This victory proves the transformative power of krill in enhancing the performance and well-being of these exceptional canine athletes.
Enhancing the performance of four-legged athletes
Dog sledding is a demanding sport, putting sled dogs through extraordinary endurance challenges. Aker BioMarine studied the effects of krill meal (QRILL Pet PL Nutri Plus) on these canine athletes since 2016.
Omega-3 phospholipids from krill have been proven to reduce inflammation and muscle damage during intense athletic challenges. It's natural for sled dogs to experience some degree of inflammation and muscle stress after challenging races.
However, our groundbreaking study conducted during the Iditarod in 2016 showed that sled dogs fed with 8% krill meal for five weeks prior to the race experienced significant relief from these symptoms.
In contrast, the sled dogs that did not receive krill meal displayed a four-fold increase in CRP (C-reactive protein) levels after the race, while those that consumed krill experienced only a three-fold increase.
The decrease in inflammation corresponded with a reduction in muscle damage, as evidenced by the levels of plasma creatine kinase. Sled dogs that were fed krill had a four-fold increase in levels, compared to a seven-fold increase in those that did not consume krill.
This research showed the significant role of krill in boosting the resilience and performance of these four-legged athletes.
Under the waves: Krill benefits for fish and shrimp
We know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but krill plays an important role in the life of farmed fish and shrimp too, not only sled dogs. The truth is that sled dogs, humans, and aquatic creatures like salmon and shrimp all want to perform at their best, and nutrition is a vital factor for all of them.
Farmed fish and shrimp often face stressful conditions, including water condition changes and treatments, which can lead to a loss of appetite. It is essential that they maintain a strong immune system to grow in these demanding circumstances and receive nutrition that stimulates their appetite.
The secret to krill's efficacy lies in, amongst others, its omega-3 phospholipids, which have a unique ability to integrate directly into cell membranes, serving as crucial building blocks for all species. This remarkable feature ensures that these essential nutrients are rapidly utilized by cells.
Moreover, the phospholipids in krill support stress tolerance and immune function in aquatic species. Krill's nutrition and palatability also stimulate the appetite of fish and shrimp.
Read more: Krill performance for all
A great potential: The power of krill across species
Krill is far more than just another marine ingredient. The amazing benefits of krill go beyond just sled dogs and aquatic creatures. Krill, with its omega-3 phospholipids, has incredible potential for a wide range of species.
From horses and pigs to chickens, flamingos, crocodiles, and eagles, a wide range of animals may become active QRILL users and benefit from its advantages in the future. Aker BioMarine remains dedicated to continuing the research into this remarkable marine ingredient and also ensuring its responsible harvest.
One thing is clear - the possibilities are endless, and the impact of krill spans across every corner of life.