High feed cost versus feed efficiency improvement

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.

High feed cost versus feed efficiency improvement

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Several options to consider to combat high prices

We are faced with a new wave of high feed prices, and improving feed efficiency is perhaps the best solution to this problem. This is a worldwide problem caused by a variety of reasons. Unless something dramatic happens, grain prices will remain high this year.

Below is a list of actions that can be considered with the help of a qualified nutritionist. Not all proposals can be applied at the same farm, but rather a selective combination must be used according to local conditions.

  1. Reduced market weight

Broilers and growing pigs tend to deposit more fat than lean meat once the protein deposit potential peaks. Marketing at a younger age always brings an improvement in feed conversion ratio (FCR).

  1. Leaner genetics

Through the same mechanism described above (depositing less fat), leaner genetics can offer feed cost savings, assuming these genetics are not more expensive to buy.

  1. Reduce feed wastage

In many commercial units, and especially those that use inexpensive feeders, up to 25% of feed can be wasted due to poor management of feeders, feed and animals.

  1. Animal health

It is widely accepted that healthy animals grow leaner and more efficiently compared with those of suboptimal health.

  1. Additives

All feed additives should be evaluated based on return on investment, and now is a good time to trim them down to only those that are absolutely necessary.

  1. Grinding cereals

It has been determined that for every 100 microns reduction in particle size, feed efficiency improves by 1.4%.

  1. Enzymes

Certain, but not all, enzymes work efficiently against the major non-starch polysaccharides found in cereals, especially in wheat (arabinoxylans) and barley (beta glucans).

  1. Mycotoxin detection

Animals invariably suffer lower performance when fed diets even with high levels of mycotoxins.

  1. Rebalanced diets

A qualified nutritionist is required to assess the changes needed to cut feed cost by reducing excesses, covering deficiencies or, preferably, both.

  1. Pelleting feed

Pelleted feed is most likely to improve feed/gain by 5% to 15% depending on diet nutrient composition, ingredients used and the weight class of the animals.

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This is phrased very briefly. In a situation with an increase in feed prices, it is necessary to determine how this can be done. The two most important indicators of feed cost are the cost of metabolizable energy and the cost of protein. Therefore, to reduce the cost of feed, one should search for alternative sources of feed protein, balance it with amino acids, preferably according to the “ideal protein” model. By the way, such models should be developed for each species or breed of animals, and for each age. The fight against anti-nutritional factors in grains is of course not limited to xylans and glucans. These are phytates, pectins, mannans, and so on. Well, you need to take into account the logistics costs. Using locally sourced ingredients is proving to be a very effective method as it reduces the cost of transporting both the ingredients and the feed itself. Yes, I also put it very briefly. Thanks to my colleague Dr. Ioannis for bringing up such an important topic. There is a lot to discuss here. It is, in fact, a feed strategy. Of course, animal health issues are also important to the final result. But, nevertheless, according to statistics, up to 80% of all livestock costs are feed.