Re-Invention for Feed Formulation

By Jane Jordan, ThePigSite Editor. Livestock producers are struggling within the green revolution, but help may be at hand through biotechnology and nutrigenomics. Feed formulation needs an overhaul now that traditional ingredients are becoming scarce, expensive and routed to bio-fuels or the human food market.
calendar icon 29 February 2008
clock icon 6 minute read

Rising feed costs - a function of low world cereal stocks, increasing human consumption and the diversion of arable crops into more lucrative contracts for bio-fuel production - are crippling meat producers. On top of this, are massive pressures to improve efficiency, reduce pollution and lessen the carbon foot print from agriculture. It all adds astronomic costs to livestock production and in the western hemisphere the sector is threatened by collapse.

"The developing world has an increasing demand for meat, but where will it come from?."

Dr Pearse Lyons, President of Alltech

However, on a global scale, the situation does not stack up - the most efficient food producers are those located in the developed world. They are the ones best placed to meet the ever increasing worldwide demand for food because they have the technology and know how to meet the challenge.

Vicious Circles

The logic was questioned during Alltech's 22nd European Lecture Tour.

"In our quest to save the world, could we make more money from carbon credits than we can from raising livestock?" asked Alltech President Dr Pearse Lyons. "This is a vicious circle. The developing world has an increasing demand for meat, but where will it come from?"

He believes livestock production offers untapped opportunities and will have an integral role in fulfilling sustainable food production. It will take a pivotal role within all the rural communities so long as it learns to re-align its strategies and make full use of alternative resources - an area in which biotechnology had already made in-roads says Dr Lyons.

Using alternatives will be the only means of making a margin and the future meant releasing the potential of fibre - primarily the nutrients locked up in cellulose.

"Ration formulators must accept that the corn/soya based diet standard is now obsolete," said Dr Lyons. And he is confident that the feed industry will meet the challenge through innovation and science-led developments Alltech is already making headway here and has developed a solid fermentation process that can improve the quality and nutritive value of bio-fuel by-products.

It's an area that could benefit feed compounders who say they are increasingly concerned about access and the quality of bio-fuel by products, mainly DDGS. The company has also commissioned a new Nutrigenomics Research Facility, a first for the feed industry. The centre will research and investigate how nutritional factors influence genetic expression and will provide valuable information on how to 'fill in the gaps relating to current nutritional understanding.
And such developments will be the focus of its Feed Symposium to in Kentucky during April 2008.

Raw Concerns

At a recent meeting of Alltech's 'Presidents Club', the Directors of the World's leading animal feed companies discussed raw material sourcing. Every delegate said their primary concern was access to raw materials because they just could not get enough grain.

Grain is in short supply. Feed formulators must learn to use alternatives.

Alternative products, including DDGS, were becoming increasingly expensive and their inconsistent quality and lack of traceability presented manufacturing challenges and risks.

These factors were increasing costs and creating more volatility in what was an already unstable market.

Forging Forward

Alltech's six-year development of solid state fermentation in relation to feed formulation has proved successful. The process, which uses carefully selected strains of fungus capable of breaking down low energy agricultural by products, such as DDGS, allows a more flexible approach to fed formulation.

In trials with commercial broilers, diets that included SSF at 200g/tonne, produced an improvement in growth rate and FCR.

The investigations, using 1500 Hybro G birds, set up seven replicates - four male, three female. The birds were fed a corn-soy based diet and the ME was reduced by two, three and four per cent from the usual three diets used - a booster, grower and finishers - respectively. The birds were reared for 50 days under fairly extreme conditions (34 degrees C at 90 per relative humidity).

Adding SSF to the ration produced a 2.9 per cent improvement in body weight at finishing and a proportional reduction in FCR. Also interesting was the vast cut in mortality - a drop of more than 45 per cent.

These positive improvement in performance are supported by results in other trials. Broilers in this case were fed a lower-grade ration. Two diets were used.
Their constituents (%) before pelleting were:

  • corn - 61 and 62.5
  • full fat soya bean meal (SBM)- 5 and 7.5 ,
  • de-hulled SBM - 20 and 14
  • fish meal - 5.5 and 2.5
  • maize gluten - 4 and 8
  • oil - 2.5 and 2.4
  • MCP - 1.1 and 1.0
  • Limestone - 1.1 and 1.2

Total phosphorus was calculated at 0.7 per cent for the stage one diet and 0.61 per cent for the second stage diets

Results showed that compared with the farms previous crops the birds fed SSF enhanced diets were more efficient and had high daily growth rates. Average weight at sale (39 days) was 2.07kg with an FCR of 1.69. Birds in the previous batch, fed control specification diets, achieved 1.95kg liveweight with an 1.74 FCR.

Similar benefits can be expected in other livestock, says Alltech and investigations are underway.

Solid State Fermentation is a totally natural process. Click here to view research into SSF and its uses with agricultural products/ by-products.

Further Reading

- To read a previous report on this subject click here.
March 2008
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