It’s often worth shopping around for alternative feed ingredients, but start by finding a dependable supply source, says Joel DeRouchey, Kansas State University Extension swine specialist. Regional availability varies widely, as do the supply contracts. “They can take many forms,” he says. Work with feed suppliers and swine nutritionists to determine which alternative ingredients may be economical in your area. He offers some other tips:

  • Consider if you’ll need additional bin space.
  • Consider potential changes in manure nutrient content and consistency that may occur. For example, diets with high fiber concentrations such as those containing dried distillers’ grains with solubles can produce thicker manure, which can be more difficult to pump from pits.
  • “Sudden demand for what was a lowerpriced alternative ingredient may drive the price up,” DeRouchey notes. For example, some ingredients gaining attention are meat and bone meal, bakery byproducts and wheat middlings.
  • Look for consistency in supply and formulate the diet on a digestible amino acid basis. “Accurate amino acid values must be available for both the actual nutrient content as well as the digestible level of amino acids,” he adds.
  • You’re going to want to review your herd’s potential performance impact before you bring any ingredient home, and then track it for actual results once you start feeding it.

DeRouchey points to meat and bone meal, which can be used as 5 percent of the diet, as an example. “We have seen decreased performance at higher levels,” he says. “But, if it can be purchased cheap enough, you can have lower performance and still come out ahead with higher inclusion rates.”

Meat and bone meal is higher in protein but lower in lysine than soybean meal. It is also an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus.

“As monocalcium has increased in price, meat and bone meal has become more economical. It will likely continue so,” he says. On an ingredient basis, it can be worth slightly more than soybean meal, depending on prices. Quality variation can be a challenge and tryptophan may become limiting.

Synthetic amino acids also deserve consideration when balancing diets with alternative ingredients. Lysine, methionine and threonine are the most commonly added amino acids when replacing soybean meal in the diet.

Generally, 3 pounds of lysine HCl per ton can be used in nursery/grow/finish diets without supplementing with other synthetic amino acids. If more than 3 pounds of synthetic lysine HCl is used, however, methionine and threonine must also be used.

Peas have been used successfully at up to 40 percent of the diet in regions where available. Soybean hulls can be used successfully in sow diets even though they are low in energy.