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High transportation costs bring back trend of base mixes

Animal feed manufacturers are turning to concentrates, base mixes or premixes to counter high transportation costs.

semi-truck
Local Guy | freeimages.com

More animal feed manufacturers are turning to concentrates, base mixes or premixes.

It no longer a secret that transporting complete feeds long distance is unviable. Transportation cost is already prohibitive and anyone who watches the news can see the writing on the wall: energy will become a premium commodity, if not a luxury, at least for the near future.

So, animal feed manufacturers (small, medium and large) are turning to concentrates, base mixes or just premixes. They use locally grown ingredients, where possible, and even agro-industrial byproducts that were overlooked in the past. Simple formulas are a thing of the past, and this makes nutritionists feel important again.

A concentrate contains everything but the cereals (energy). A base mix (a rarely used terminology outside the U.S.) is the same as a concentrate, but without the protein source (say, soybean meal). So, a user of a base mix will have to add cereals and a protein source, whereas a user of a concentrate will only add the cereal. In contrast, a premix is just the vitamins and trace minerals. Here, the feed maker will have to add macro-minerals (calcium, phosphorus, sodium), additives and some other minor ingredients.

My network gives me signals that the trend is to focus on base mixes as these include the sensitive additives. Sensitive in the sense that nobody wants to disclose the brand and/or quantity being used – at least no more than what is legally needed on the label. Energy and protein sources are sourced locally, whereas base mixes are imported or bought from national large nutrition suppliers with sufficient know-how. Of course, size or reach of nutrition supplier is not a clear indication of sufficient know-how basis, as I know at least a few international players without a single Ph.D. nutritionist in their staff (like a hospital without surgeons).

For farmers and local feed mills that procure complete feeds to farmers, the challenge now is to find the right supplier of a base mix: one that is neither too expensive, nor too out of touch with current knowledge so as to provide them with the best option possible. That takes us back many decades, and I am not talking just for feeds regarding grown-up animals. This base mix trend is something that is growing rapidly even for young animals, although when it comes to very young animals, concentrates are the best option in my opinion.

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