High feed prices have caused many producers to consider alternative ingredients. Chad Hastad, Swine Nutrition Services, explains that care is needed when considering unconventional feed ingredients for pig diets. “Before we look at alternative ingredient options, there are a number of things you should be doing right now to counter higher feed costs,” he says. Among them are:
• Lower particle size to improve feed efficiency
• Keep feeders adjusted correctly
• Look at market weights and adjust down if it makes sense
• Consider eliminating all fat from diets
• Look at increasing inclusion rates of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)
• Evaluate how Paylean is being used
• Work with your nutritionist/vet/suppliers/banker on farm to find ways to save
• Make decisions based on facts, not emotions
• Look at feed budgets – are they correct and are they being followed?
• Look at possible equipment changes to improve efficiency (feeders, waterers, etc)
If you are following these fundamentals, you can be more proactive in looking at alternative ingredients. These could be any other energy or protein source. Our clients have fed a wide range of products, including pet food, sticky granola, Jolly Ranchers, brown sugar, corn flour and soup mix by-product.
When considering any by-product, these are the questions you should be asking:
• What is the nutrient composition?
• How variable is the quality of the product as delivered and how will I deal with the variation?
• In what form does the by-product come?
• How does the ingredient impact flowability, bulk density and feed milling? For example, higher inclusion rates of DDGS will affect transportation. At 40 percent inclusion, a 24-ton truck may only hold 18 to 22 tons of feed. This will increase transportation cost per ton of complete feed.
• Is bin space available?
• How will the ingredient impact growth performance and carcass parameters (leanness and fat quality)?
• Will the product be available consistently at an economical price?
• Do I save enough money for the added risk?
“If you can answer these questions and you believe the risks are worth it, use alternatives,” says Hastad. “There may be many opportunities available to you locally if you look for them. Monitor performance carefully and make adjustments quickly if you have to.”