Comparative Feed Values for Swine
Table of Contents
Feed costs represent 65%-75% of the variable costs of swine production. As a result, feed costs play a major role in determining the profitability of a swine enterprise. While corn and soybean meal are the industry standards for supplying energy and protein, there are many suitable alternatives that meet nutritional requirements while reducing the cost of the ration.
Price relationships vary greatly depending on seasonal variability, global and local markets. Pork producers must be able to evaluate the cost effectiveness and nutritional value of various feed ingredients in order to supply a nutritionally-balanced diet at a minimal cost.
Least-cost computer ration formulation programs are available to design rations that meet minimal nutritional requirements for the least cost. Feed manufacturers and large farmers use these programs effectively to purchase and maintain large inventories of numerous ingredients. Many producers do not have the storage or processing facilities to include a large number of ingredients in the ration. However, producers must still be aware of feeding alternatives and possible ingredient substitutions that may increase returns.
Energy and protein are the main nutrient components in a swine ration. Grains such as corn, barley, wheat and oats have traditionally supplied energy, while protein has come from meals produced from oilseeds such as soybean.
Many alternative feeds useful in swine rations are produced by the industries involved in grain milling, baking, brewing, distilling, packing and rendering, fruit and vegetable, vegetable oil, milk, egg and poultry processing. By-products from these industries are regularly used in manufactured feed to provide required nutrients at a reduced cost. Many of the by-products from these processes are approved as single ingredient feeds in the federal Feeds Act and Regulations and can readily substitute for a portion of the energy or protein supply in a complete feed.
To use ingredients outside those listed in Schedule 4 of the federal Feeds Act and Regulations producers must be licensed under the federal Health of Animals Act and Regulations. Producers obtain licences according to guidelines outlined in sections 111 to 113 of the Health of Animals Act, which governs the use of edible residual material in feeding swine and poultry.
Alternative feeds can be used to provide a portion of the energy or protein in swine rations. The appropriate amount to use will depend on the cost, nutrient availability (digestibility), quality of protein, amino acid profile, palatability, presence of anti-nutritional factors, storage life, and age of the pig for which the feed is intended.
Cost is one of the most difficult factors to determine when considering the use of alternative feeds. A producer must take into account the amount of nutrients supplied by the replacement feed. This can be extremely difficult since most feeds cannot be directly compared due to nutrient variability. As a result, relative values are often used for comparison purposes. However, note that the ultimate cost of any ration change must also consider other factors such as transportation, special processing needs and storage.
The relative value of a feed ingredient is used to compare the value of that feed to the price of the industry standard energy and protein suppliers delivered to the farm. Table 1, Nutrient Composition and Suggested Maximum Inclusion Rates of Alternative Feed Ingredients for Swine, lists relative values of feeds when compared to corn or soybean meal. They reflect the value of the ingredient as it relates to the 3 most expensive nutrients in a swine ration - energy, lysine and phosphorus. Note that these relative values do not consider the suggested limits on inclusion rates that are listed. The values are based purely on a comparison between the nutrient levels in the alternative feed and the nutrient standards - corn, soybean meal and dicalcium phosphate - and their respective costs.
Protein quality refers to the amino acid content of the feed ingredient. Since lysine is the most limiting essential amino acid in corn-soybean meal based rations, it is important to consider lysine when valuing replacement feeds. For example, corn gluten and wheat contain a high level of protein relative to the amount of lysine. If a ration was prepared with these ingredients based solely on the protein concentration, the pigs would not be provided with sufficient lysine to support optimum performance. As a result, rations for swine should be balanced according to the level of lysine instead of crude protein.
Nutrient availability, or digestibility, is the extent to which a nutrient can be used by a pig. A feed such as alfalfa meal may be relatively high in protein but this protein is not available to the pig due to the high fibre content of the feed.
An anti-nutritional factor is any factor in a feed ingredient that interferes with nutrient digestibility. These may include trypsin inhibitors, tannins, lectins or glucosinolates. For example, raw whole soybeans contain a trypsin inhibitor. As a result, they must be heat-processed or they will cause a decrease in performance due to decreased protein digestibility and absorption.
Palatability is the term used to describe the extent to which a pig likes to eat a feed ingredient or ration. As pigs grow older, flavour preferences change, just as they do in humans. Pigs, in fact, have more taste buds than humans (15,000 vs 9,000) so flavours, or off-flavours, can have an impact on what feed alternatives are feasible. In pig rations, for example, dried whole milk is very palatable while triticale has poor palatability at high inclusion levels.
Inclusion rate will vary for ingredients depending on palatability, nutrient availability, protein quality, nutrient interrelationship, and the method of processing and feeding. The maximum inclusion rates in Table 1 vary for each class of pig and are based on limiting factors. If the ingredient is fed above the maximum suggested inclusion rate, animal performance and pork quality can be compromised. Table 2, Factors Affecting Inclusion Rate of Alternative Feed Ingredients for Swine, lists specific feed ingredients and the corresponding factors that will limit their inclusion in a swine ration.
Nutrient variability refers to the variation in nutrient content of different samples of a given ingredient. Many alternative feeds, such as bakery waste, are extremely variable in their nutrient content. This variability makes these feeds more difficult to use and ensure that the ration is properly balanced. Testing of repeated samples can be useful in assessing nutrient variability in a given feed ingredient. Refer to OMAF Factsheet Nutrient Testing, Order No. 03-007 for more information on sampling and testing procedures.
Stability is the extent to which a nutrient or feed ingredient will remain intact in its original form. For example, vegetable oils that are not stabilized with an antioxidant will go rancid quickly. Rancid oils are very unpalatable and compromise feed intake.
Table 1. Nutrient Composition and Suggested Maximum Inclusion
NR = not recommended
Table 2. Factors Affecting Inclusion Rate of Alternative Feed Ingredients for Swine
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