Pork producers dealing with higher input costs might want to consult a nutritionist to explore options presented by alternative feed ingredients, according to Hans Stein.

Stein, a University of Illinois Extension swine nutritionist, says a number of feed alternatives are available that could replace a portion of the corn in hogs’ diets.

Distillers dried grains (DDGs) “obviously are one thing we have a lot of here in Illinois and are available to everyone,” says Stein, who was a featured speaker at recent feed cost management seminars hosted by the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

“We feel really comfortable for producers to include up to 20 percent DDGs in the diets of all groups of pigs, if the diet is formulated correctly,” Stein says. “In many cases, we probably could feed as much as 30 to 40 percent DDGs but we don’t have the research to prove it yet.”

Producers also may include everything from oats, barley, and wheat byproducts to leftover products from the food processing industry in hogs’ diets, says Stein.

“There are several alternative products that are being marketed to the (pork) industry at relatively attractive prices,” he says.

Producers looking to lower feed costs with alternative products first must be willing to change aspects of their operation and their mind set, according to Stein.

“Feed costs definitely have gone up,” he says. Producers need to “accept the idea that the days when the lowest feed cost was a mix of corn and soy meal probably are over. It’s a different scenario now.”

Pork producers also may have a need for more bins or holding facilities if they want to expand the menu of feed items.

“Many producers are limited on how many ingredients they can utilize because they only have a few bins on their operation for corn and soy meal,” he says.

“We believe it could be profitable to add bin space to be able to buy alternative feed ingredients when they’re available.”

Source: IllinoisFarm Bureau/FarmWeek article