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Grain extrusion may be cost effective in swine diets

Usually dismissed as an unnecessary cost, a study finds benefits of extrusion in swine diets may in fact outweigh the costs.

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Study finds benefits of extrusion in swine diets may in fact outweigh the cost

Extrusion improves the availability of energy and amino acid in swine diets, potentially reducing the diet’s cost enough to make up for the added processing, according to new research from the University of Illinois.

Previous research, according to University of Illinois animal science professor Hans Stein, had indicated that extrusion would increase the digestibility of starch, which would in turn increase the availability of energy in the diet and therefore decrease the overall amount of grain needed to feed the animal. The resulting research determined this relationship held true for corn and sorghum, but did not observe the same increase in red winter wheat.

The research team tested all three ingredients, extruding half of the corn, sorghum and wheat collected for the study. They then formulated diets with either extruded or non-extruded grains and analyzed the difference in digestibility.

By gelatinizing the starch contained within the grains, the experiment increased the energy available from corn and sorghum. Extrusion also appeared to increase the digestibility of amino acids, particularly in corn.

The overall increase in digestibility would reduce the need for key inputs in swine diets, and the increased availability of amino acids from corn would further reduce the need for soybean meal, according to Stein.

While Stein said the team did not calculate the potential difference in cost, he thought the benefits observed in the study “would easily pay for the extrusion here.”

The caveat, he said, is that extruded diets for swine are difficult to come by.

“It would be better,” he said, “but I’m not sure you can find it, because we have very little extrusion capacity.”

Unless the U.S. animal feed industry undergoes a shift and extrusion becomes more widely available in livestock feed, Stein said the limited availability and specialty nature of extrusion would remain a hurdle for producers looking to try extruded grains in diets of their own.

“It’s probably not something that will be economical for a small producer who is producing his own feed,” Stein said.

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