Animal Nutrition Views
Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.
Is soybean meal from one country better than from another?
I am quite often asked why each soybean meal of different origin requires a distinct feed specification matrix record. In other words, why soybean meal from the U.S. needs to be a different ingredient from soybean meal from India, or Argentina, or Brazil. After all, they all start with very similar raw material, which is raw soybeans from a handful of seed genetic suppliers. And, although growing conditions are not exactly similar across the world, they still are not significantly disparate to warrant such a wide difference in soybean meal nutrient specifications. To explain this issue, we must focus on three issues that cause soybean meals from different sources to have different nutrient values:
1. Soybean hulls
Quite often, a part of the outer shell of the beans (the hull) is added back to the soybean meal. Thus, by adding more hulls back, we get from 48 percent down to 44 percent crude protein, with a corresponding increase in total fiber concentration.
2. Residual oil
The amount of oil extracted from soybeans differs according to the processing method followed, which is not exactly similar across the world. It appears the factories within a region or country tend to follow similar methods, which results in similar end product specifications.
3. Thermal processing
The solvent extraction method used for oil removal from soybeans involves a certain degree of thermal processing. This cooking can be mild or severe, depending on the processing method and quality of machinery. Exposure to high temperatures denaturates the protein and renders it less digestible/available to animals. This is a major issue that greatly diminishes the value of the primary source of animal feed protein worldwide.
In brief, the resulting end nutritive value of soybean meal has nothing to do with country of origin, but rather with processing methods that tend to be similar within a country. This is why soybean meal purchases are often characterized by country of origin.