Why mega farms use in-house nutrition expertise

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.

Why mega farms use in-house nutrition expertise

Why mega farms use in-house nutrition expertise

Farming at a mega scale requires a simple approach that is problem free

Creating or reviewing a nutrition program for a mega animal producer is rather a different exercise compared with working for a feed/nutrition supplier or any other animal producer. In large farms, individual animal performance cannot be easily monitored or catered to. Instead, individual animal performance records are aggregated into population averages, whereas the goal is to increase average performance while reducing deviation from such average.

The same inability to attend to specialized nutrition programs (be it additives, new feeds or even supplements of any kind) is evident and has to do with the lack of sufficient personnel to run trials, make costly decisions, and assume responsibility for decisions they cannot verify with their own data. Running a product through the whole enterprise and comparing with historical records might be an easy enough exercise for a smaller farm, but for a mega producer such a sangfroid decision may cost thousands or millions of dollars, or euros, or whatever currency they are in. At the end, it might cost several jobs.

In-house nutrition for large farms must be simple – simple to understand, simple to apply, simple to control and verify, simple to adjust, and simple to replicate. It also needs to be universal as one mill often makes feed for all animals and changing formulas, dies (if pelleted), and all other feed mill variables associated with multi-feed operations creates unnecessary complications. Here, we need to understand that the key issue is absence of mistakes. Adding extra salt in the feed mill of a small farm might cause some harm in some animals. The same innocent mistake in a mega farm, associated with a few hours or frozen water pipes might cause the death of thousands of animals, and someone will pay for it dearly.

That is why the focus on mega farms is not where many expect it to be. And this is why such mega farms depend on in-house nutrition expertise instead of outside inputs.