Pork producers who make full use of alternative feedstuffs may decrease their cost of production. A report from South Dakota State University says that properly formulated rations for swine may include corn, soybeans, barley, field peas, milo or grain sorghum, wheat and oats.
Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension swine specialist, said producers who consider their feed options may cut costs but he reminds them to think beyond price-per-bushel numbers.
"Relative feeding value and trucking costs have to come into the discussion as well," says Thaler. "Producers need to evaluate the real value of the ingredient at their farm and not at the point of purchase."
Evaluating some of the options, including barley, milo, field peas, and oats, Thaler said each has potential place in a swine diet based on current prices.
"Barley has about 95 percent of the feeding value of corn when ground to a 700-micron size or smaller," he said. "Barley has both significantly higher lysine and fiber content than corn does, so if it's used, it will replace both soybean meal and corn."
Thaler said when comparing current corn and barley prices, barley looks good. Currently corn is priced at $4.22 per bushel in northeastern South Dakota; feeding barley at $3.44 per bushel would be equivalent to that in terms of price.
"Barley prices are now about $3.24 per bushel, so using it would lower diet costs," he said. "Its high fiber content makes it best for late grower, finisher, and gestation diets."
Grain sorghum, or milo, offers a 97 percent feeding value compared to corn, and like barley, milo needs to be finely ground, Thaler added.
"The main difference in milo is a one-percent lower fat content compared to corn," he said. If available locally, milo is nearly $1 less per bushel than corn, which makes it an attractive replacement for corn.
"Even with trucking costs at $4 per mile, a producer could transport milo 200 miles and still save money," he said. "But those who buy milo must finely grind it to a 600 to 700 micron size to get good performance."
Thaler says current wheat prices make it too expensive for swine diets but in contrast, both oats and field peas have possible roles in an alternative swine diet combination.
"Oats offer a 90 percent feeding value compared to corn, but like barley, it is higher in lysine and fiber than corn, so it can replace both corn and soybean meal," he said. "Field peas offer excellent protein, and they can be added at rates up to 40 percent in grow-finish diets, up to 16 per cent in gestation diets, and up to 24 per cent in lactation diets."
Besides looking at trucking charges and relative feed values, producers need to assess how much free bin space they have on their place for storing alternative ingredients before they place purchase orders.