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Articles from 2016 In August

10 hog farm odor mitigation considerations

Managing odors at hog units seems to be a never-ending challenge, but there are many practices that producers can implement to lessen the impact odors have on the operation and neighbor relations.

Jay Harmon, Iowa State University professor of Ag & Biosystems Engineering, and Daniel Andersen, ISU assistant professor of Ag & Biosystems Engineering, offer 10 considerations producers can take to manage odor, and some of the costs and effectiveness associated with the practices.

Harmon says focus on the simple solutions first. “Consider management as well as cost. If you are building new facilities, spend time focused on proper siting. Consider covering or protecting outside manure storage. And be careful with manure application. Remember, you are hauling odor to your neighbor’s doorstep.”

Biosecurity important before, during and after livestock exhibitions

Biosecurity important before, during and after livestock exhibitions

Fairs and expos are a chance for young livestock exhibitors to have fun and show off their hard work. Friendships and lessons learned will stay with youth long after the event is over. However, something else may also linger — diseases that can infect other animals.

“Biosecurity is simply another way of saying infectious diseases,” says Kendra Frasier, animal disease traceability coordinator at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

People may not know all the ways disease can be transmitted to animals, Frasier says, adding that just like humans, animals can get diseases from different places, including diseases transferred from animal to animal as well as diseases from humans.

“We wanted to provide a resource for people to think about biosecurity and disease transmission,” Frasier says of new biosecurity fact sheets available from the KDA. “By thinking about the different pathways of how animals get sick, exhibitors will be able to make adjustments at home and while at the event to keep their animals healthy.”

The catalyst for vigilance in the area was the avian influenza outbreak last year that kept poultry exhibits out of the Kansas State Fair. Another disease that inspired action was vesticular stomatitis found in horses that plagued Colorado several years ago.

Because different species of animals pass diseases through different channels, KDA produced information for cattle, sheep, poultry, rabbits, swine, goats and horses.

“The Kansas State Fair requires a health certificate within 30 days of arriving at the fair,” Frasier says. “Now that’s not necessarily a rule for a county fair, but it is for the Kansas State Fair. It is important to make sure your livestock are up-to-date on any vaccines they need. If you have questions about what a vaccination schedule should include you can contact your veterinarian.” The 2016 Kansas State Fair is Sept. 9-18.

In addition to ensuring all paperwork is complete, Frasier notes the importance of making sure animals look healthy. Droopy ears, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, coughing and other changes could be a sign of poor health and those animals shouldn’t be bought to the event.

Bring only clean, disinfected equipment and supplies to the event, she adds, which prevents the possibility of disease being spread from your exhibit to other animals.

While at the event, watch for any signs of illness, including unusual behavior.

“If your animal has any signs of illness or if you suspect it might, notify an authority at the event,” Frasier says. “The Kansas State Fair has a veterinarian on call. We as animal health officials through the Kansas Department of Agriculture are also at the State Fair.”

Frasier advises exhibitors to avoid contact with animals other than his or her own, especially close nose-to-nose contact. In addition, exhibitors should limit the number of people in direct contact with the animal, and to not share feed, water or grooming supplies with others as they could be contaminated.

“The last thing that you want to do is pick up a disease at the event and then bring it home to your herd or flock,” Frasier says. “We recommend isolating livestock that was at the event from the rest of the herd for approximately 21 days – the usual incubation period for most diseases. Once they’ve been isolated for 21 days you know if the animals are going to be sick. The isolation area should be as far from other animals as is practical. It should at least prevent nose-to-nose contact. Again, if you’ve got questions about what that means or what that looks like contact a veterinarian.”

Having a good working relationship with a veterinarian who knows your operation is helpful.

“Once there is an isolation plan and the animals are isolated, you want to make sure you care for those isolated animals last every day,” Frasier says. “Only after caring for the healthy, non-isolated animals should someone care for those isolated animals so he or she isn’t going back through the healthy animal pens. Also, do not share equipment between the isolated animals and the non-isolated animals. Monitor the isolated livestock for any signs of illness and if needed, contact your veterinarian.”

It is imperative to allow a sick animal to recover before exhibiting it again, both for the animal’s wellbeing and other animals at the show, she says.

Although the Kansas State Fair is identified in the fact sheets, the methods outlined are useful for all livestock exhibitions and can be helpful for those who do not exhibit livestock. Places like sale barns and others where an animal leaves your farm for another place and returns could pose a disease risk.

Click here for more information.

Producers should see VCPRs as animal health opportunity

veterinarian looking at pen of pigs

By now, livestock producers are becoming aware of soon-to-be-implemented changes in how feed-grade antibiotics are used, in the form of expanded use of the Veterinary Feed Directive.

Producers using feed-grade medications such as chlortetracycline and tylosin will need to obtain a prescription-like VFD form from a veterinarian before they’re able to purchase and feed those medications.

The implications that go along with these regulations have been subjects of much discussion. One implication that will affect some producers more than others is the stipulation that the VFD forms be obtained through a veterinarian — and not just any veterinarian.

The veterinarian writing the VFD form must have what’s termed a “veterinary client patient relationship” or VCPR with the producer.

VCPRs defined
A relationship with a veterinarian can take many forms, but the VCPR — necessary to obtain the proper VFD forms (as well as to use prescription medicines, or injectable or water medications in an extra-label fashion) — is spelled out in state and federal regulations. South Dakota follows the federal VCPR definition, which states that a valid VCPR exists when:

♦ A veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of (an) animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client (the owner of the animal or animals or other caretaker) has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian;

♦ There is sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) by the veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s); and

♦ The practicing veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy.

Furthermore, the statute states, “Such a relationship can exist only when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of examination of the animal(s), and/or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept.”

It’s that last part that creates uncertainty, since it doesn’t specify how frequently a veterinarian must visit an operation. One could say these requirements were written in a purposefully vague manner: since the rules must apply to all food animal operations, a one-size-fits-all approach is not easily attained. One key is how often conditions, animals and management can change on an animal operation. A cow-calf operation may have used the same type of cattle and management strategies for the past 20 or 30 years, while in a large dairy, disease processes, nutrition and management may change on a monthly or weekly basis.

VFD considerations
While one could focus on the uncertainties present in the VCPR definition, some aspects are certain:

♦ VFD forms can’t be obtained from a veterinarian who has never seen your animals or operation.

♦ If a veterinarian is familiar with you, your animals and your management, a farm visit to personally examine the set of animals to be treated may not always be necessary before obtaining a VFD.

♦ Your veterinarian is entitled to determine what “medically appropriate and timely visits” means in the context of their practice and your operation. They have no obligation to provide you a VFD if they feel a VCPR does not exist — their signature on the line indicates that relationship is present.

♦ A valid VCPR does not mean the veterinarian can authorize uses of feed-grade medications that are not on the label (“extra label” use).

As mentioned earlier, some producers will navigate these changes in feed-grade antibiotic use much better than others. Those producers are the ones with an existing solid relationship with one veterinarian or one veterinary clinic. For them, all the dust-up about VCPRs is largely irrelevant because that relationship is ingrained in their operation.

Bottom line
Producers who have not had veterinarians visit their operation, or have not used veterinarians at all, will have a harder time adjusting to the VCPR requirement when it comes to obtaining VFD forms. It is not too late to start greasing those skids, though. Schedule a visit with a veterinarian to go over your current uses of feed-grade medications and determine whether you will need to obtain VFDs for them. Then discuss what constitutes a VCPR in terms of your operation and the veterinary practice. Coordinating this information with your consulting nutritionist is a good idea. In this manner, you’ll be ready for the changes that will occur on Jan. 1.

Conscientious livestock producers will look at the VCPR requirement not as an opportunity to seek loopholes in the system, rather they will consider it an opportunity for animal health and profitability improvement through veterinary involvement in their animal’s well-being.

Salmonella: A constant threat to pigs

Salmonella is one of the most widespread enteric diseases affecting swine herds today If you suspect disease use diagnostic testing to help confirm
<p><em>Salmonella </em>is one of the most widespread enteric diseases affecting swine herds today. If you suspect disease, use diagnostic testing to help confirm.</p>

Among the traditional enteric diseases affecting pigs today Salmonella is one of the most widespread, and one of the most resilient. It can colonize and survive in any organism, from plants to insects to animals. And, with its ability to adapt to new environments Salmonella can survive even the most uninhabitable conditions, making it impossible to eradicate.

“It’s important that we don’t forget that any pig can get it at any time,” says Dr. Julie Funk, professor and associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. “Since the bacteria is always present, just the slightest dip in immunity or gap in biosecurity can cause an outbreak of clinical Salmonella symptoms throughout a barn or an entire operation.”

Infections caused by Salmonella can present in one of two ways: clinical or subclinical. Clinical signs most often present as diarrhea or septicemia. However, subclinical Salmonella is the more common presentation. “Subclinical infections are common in swine operations. Many studies suggest anywhere from 5 to 20% of individual pigs are subclinically infected (at any one time),” Dr. Funk says. More information on Salmonella infections can be found in the Blueprint for Health column in the July issue of National Hog Farmer.

While diagnosing subclinical Salmonella can be difficult, Dr. Funk recommends using diagnostics to determine if pigs are infected. She explains that there are usually three types of questions that producers want answered to determine the extent of Salmonella infection within the herd.

Q: Is Salmonella causing the disease I’m seeing?

A: Pathological diagnosis – submit tissue samples to the diagnostic lab to test for Salmonella lesions in tissue. If Salmonella is present, the next step is to use a Microbiogical Culture to identify the exact Salmonella serovar.

Q: What Salmonella strains are present in my production system?

A: Microbiological Culture – designed to detect which Salmonella serovar are present via fecal samples or oral fluid testing.

Q: Have these pigs been exposed to Salmonella?

A: Cross sectional or Longitudinal ELISA – multiple samples collected over time designed to detect antibodies to Salmonella in the bloodstream to determine if exposure to Salmonella has occurred. Serum samples or oral fluid samples can be collected for Salmonella ELISA. 

“When diagnosing Salmonella, correctly determining the strain of the bacteria your particular pigs are infected with is especially important in treating the bacteria and controlling the disease,” says Dr. Jessica Seate, DVM, a technical manager veterinarian of swine enteric vaccines at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

There are 2,500+ strains of Salmonella. Although there are only a small number of those strains, or serovars/serotypes, that will cause severe disease in pigs, each serovar affects your herd differently and therefore needs to be treated differently. Using the correct diagnostic test can help determine both the source and the strain of Salmonella, allowing producers to treat it properly and quickly. This also helps when dealing with a strain resistant to antibiotics, or highly pathogenic strain. Both of these serovars need to be treated with extra care, and diagnostic tests are often the first step to ensuring the disease doesn’t spread further than it has to.

“Producers that are diligent in testing as soon as they suspect disease are most likely to avoid an outbreak and performance losses. By knowing what you’re dealing with, you can solve the problem faster,” says Dr. Seate.

Of these serovars, the one Dr. Funk cautions producers to pay closest attention to is Salmonella Typhimurium, one of the most common strains found on swine farms today. It is also zoonotic, meaning it will infect humans. Dr. Funk recommends producers take preventative measures against this strain, using holistic management techniques to help reduce exposure at the farm level. For more information on these management techniques, look for our next Blueprint for Health column in the September issue of National Hog Farmer.

2016 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

U of I, Chinese researchers team up to study energy digestibility in wheat bran fed to pigs

Research conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois collaborating with colleagues at China Agricultural University in Beijing, China, is helping to determine the nutritional value of wheat bran in diets fed to pigs. Wheat bran, like many other co-products from the human food industries, contains more fiber than corn and soybean meal, which adversely affects energy digestibility.

“To save on feed costs, more producers are turning to co-products,” says Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at Illinois. “Therefore, there is a need to determine the energy contribution from fiber-rich ingredients. But the effect of dietary fiber on heat production and net energy of diets is unclear.”

The research was conducted in the calorimetry unit at China Agricultural University. Growing barrows were fed diets containing 0%, 15% or 30% wheat bran. The pigs were housed in metabolism crates inside calorimetry chambers built to measure gas exchange and heat production.

The digestible energy, metabolizable energy and net energy in the diets declined as more wheat bran was included. The DE content of diets containing no wheat bran was 3,454 kilocalories per kilogram, compared with 3,161 kilocalories per kilogram in diets containing 30% wheat bran. The ME content of the diets decreased from 3,400 to 3,091 kilocalories per kilogram, and NE content decreased from 1,808 to 1,458 kilocalories per kilogram.

Research purpose

  • There is a need to determine the energy contribution from ingredients that are rich in fiber, because these ingredients are increasingly being fed to save on feed costs
  • Inclusion of 0%, 15%, or 30% wheat bran in diets fed to growing pigs resulted in a decrease in dietary digestible energy, metabolizable energy, and net energy.
  • Values for digestible, metabolizable and net energy in wheat bran determined using the difference procedure were in good agreement with the values estimated using linear regression, indicating that both procedures may be used to estimate energy values in feed ingredients.

The research also validated a procedure commonly used to determine NE. Using the difference procedure, Stein’s team determined the DE, ME and NE of wheat bran to be 2,168, 2,117 and 896 kilocalories per kilogram, respectively. These values were similar to those derived using a regression procedure.

Stein says that DE and ME are usually determined using the difference procedure, but NE is usually determined using regression equations. As far as he knows, nobody has compared values derived from the difference procedure with values derived via regression.

“Since experiments to determine NE via the difference procedure are more difficult to conduct than determining DE and ME, it’s helpful to know that using regression to determine NE will yield an accurate value,” Stein concludes.

The paper, “Wheat bran reduces concentrations of digestible, metabolizable and net energy in diets fed to pigs, but energy values in wheat bran determined by the difference procedure are not different from values estimated from a linear regression procedure,” was published in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Animal Science. It was co-authored by Neil Jaworski of the University of Illinois, and Dewen Liu and Defa Li of China Agricultural University in Beijing.

ADM debuts customizable feed solutions platform at Farm Progress Show

ADM Animal Nutrition, a division of Archer Daniels Midland Co., launched a customizable feed solutions platform for livestock producers that helps animals adapt to nutritional stresses, enhances animal wellbeing and productivity and ultimately helps increase profit potential for producers.

ADM’s unique solutions platform, developed in alliance with Austrian-based ANCO Animal Nutrition Competence GmbH, is made up of the feed additive Anco FIT, which incorporates Gut Agility, an activator that empowers animals to be more robust and efficient in the face of dietary challenges and stressors, and CitriStim, an ADM proprietary, unique, whole-cell yeast product with scientifically proven efficacy. These two additives are used in combination with an adsorbent to counteract a wide variety of on-farm nutritional challenges.

At Farm Progress Show

Visit ADM at the 63rd annual Farm Progress Show, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, in Boone, Iowa. Representatives from ADM Animal Nutrition will be at the ADM tent located at lot #334 on Central Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets.

“Although grain crop challenges vary by climate and region, ADM’s vast network offers expert insight into the landscape of farms across the U.S.,” says Ruben Beltran, product manager for ADM Animal Nutrition. “This insight gives ADM the ability to identify specific nutritional stressors for individual farms and create customized feed solutions while making species-based palatability adjustments that support optimized intake when grain or ensiled crop quality is potentially compromised.”

ADM’s customizable feed solutions platform is designed for the nutritional management of dairy cattle, swine and poultry. The product line is currently available in the United States.

For additional information, contact ADM Animal Nutrition at 800-775-3295, or visit or

Zoetis to sponsor postgraduate research fellowship at ISU

A study at Iowa State University may give pork producers new insights on how to manage the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. A postgraduate fellow, sponsored by Zoetis, will work with other university scholars to identify herd-specific best practices to prevent, control and/or eliminate PRRS virus.

Although pork researchers have learned much over the years about how this virus spreads and infects pigs, PRRS remains a troublesome disease. A 2013 study showed reproductive losses and decreased pig performance cost the industry $664 million per year.

“We as an industry have a great opportunity to improve PRRS management,” says Jose Angulo, DVM, managing veterinarian and PRRS specialist, U.S. Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “This study will examine risk factors such as herd size, biosecurity, whole herd immunity and gilt flow to analyze current control and elimination PRRSV strategies and develop a more tailored approach to address PRRSV in breeding herds and reduce production impacts.”

The student sponsored by Zoetis will work alongside Daniel Linhares, DVM, MBA, PhD, assistant professor, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, and Derald Holtkamp, DVM, MS, associate professor, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine. Both ISU professors have been actively involved in recent field-applied PRRSV research projects. The total value of the fellowship is $105,263.

“There is still great variability on the efficacy of PRRS control programs to reduce herd impact; part of that variability is due to variation of pig flow and system layout,” Linhares says. “We’re eager to partner with Zoetis so that we can help producers understand interactions between breeding herd characteristics and PRRSV management strategies.”

During the upcoming project, the researchers are targeting at least 135 breeding herds over a two-year period. Herds will be studied in groups based on similar herd characteristics and PRRSV management goals. Researchers hope to identify best PRRSV management practices to reduce economic and production impact. 

The approach, also known as precision medicine, is common in human health studies that examine diseases from an epidemiological standpoint. Precision medicine considers the interaction between the host, environment, pathogen and other associated risk factors. 

“It is difficult to have a one-size-fits-all management strategy for PRRSV because of the complexity in the virus as well as differences in herds,” Angulo says. “Each herd has its own unique set of challenges. Identifying successful virus control strategies for comparable herds puts the industry one step closer to eliminating PRRSV nationwide. Zoetis is proud to support young veterinary professionals as they help our industry achieve this goal.”

For more information on the study or how you can participate, contact Will Lopez, DVM, 515-735-8216; Daniel Linhares, DVM, MBA, PhD, 515-357-1044; or Derald Holtkamp, DVM, MS, 515-294-9611.

Avoid local (and other) bias in corn market

Corn supplies are robust.

Like many Midwest hog producers, you may see signs all around you that the corn supply is robust and prices will stay low. Strong weekly crop condition ratings and a lack of significant weather issues this summer have been pushing prices lower since mid-June.

And the most recent USDA crop report estimated both corn production and yield at record levels — not only well above pre-report industry expectations, but also a sharp increase from the previous forecast — which sent prices down even further. What’s more, you likely pass fields of healthy corn every day. But the signs that you see aren’t the only ones that matter.

All other things being equal, the larger U.S. supply should keep pressure on prices heading into the new crop year. But all things aren’t equal. U.S. supply isn’t the only factor that contributes to corn prices.

In fact, as shown in Figure 1, corn prices initially rose after the release of the August USDA report, before continuing lower. While it’s impossible to know whether that change represents a turning point or a temporary blip, it underscores the fact that other factors may be pulling prices in a different direction.

Keep an eye on growing global demand
While you may see clear evidence of strong U.S. supply, remember to consider the demand side of the equation, as well as influences from outside the country. Along with adjustments to yield and production estimates, USDA’s August report also included increases in demand projections. As shown in Figure 2, total domestic corn use has risen fairly steadily over the past 30 years, as a growing ethanol industry has made up an increasingly larger portion of demand. Although ethanol demand has been leveling off, estimates for domestic feed and residual usage were raised 475 million bushels, or 9.1%, over last year, leading to an increase in the 2016 estimate for total domestic use by 4.7% over 2015.

While domestic corn use accounts for about 85% of total demand, U.S. corn has become increasingly competitive on the world market due to recent crop losses in Brazil and large new-crop outstanding sales. As shown in Figure 3, USDA increased the new-crop export estimate by 125 million bushels over last month and by 250 million bushels, or 13%, over the 2015-16 crop year.

Take the long view
No one can predict where corn prices will go, but history can serve as a guide. Currently, corn futures are in the second percentile of the past 10 years, as shown in Figure 4. That means price levels have been lower only about 2% of the time during that time period. Even when compared against prices for the past 15 years, which includes marketing seasons before ethanol production was a significant factor in demand, today’s futures price level is still well below average.

Consider all your options
Given the possibility that corn prices may rise, one solution would be to commit to fixed purchases at current price levels by using futures contracts. While that would lock-in a relatively low cost for your corn inputs, if prices fall, you would miss out on the opportunity to get an even lower price. If you’d like to take advantage of today’s low prices, while also leaving open the possibility of benefitting from further declines, you may want to consider option strategies. By purchasing a call option, you secure the right — but not the obligation — to buy corn at a given price. In other words, you commit to a maximum price, but not a minimum. In this way, options represent a tool for adding valuable flexibility to your risk management plan.

If options were free, the decision about what to do would be straightforward. But the right strategy for your situation will depend on a number of factors, including the cost of the options themselves. Because an option affords some degree of certainty, the greater the level of overall uncertainty in the market, the more valuable a given option will be. By quantifying the relative cost of options — how expensive they are compared to the benefit they offer — we can make an informed decision about whether an option strategy makes sense for your situation.

While the nominal cost of options will vary based on futures price levels and largely be a function of price changes in the underlying futures market, the relative cost of options reflects the level of uncertainty in the market. This measure displays seasonal tendencies; historically it tends to increase from mid-September to late-November, perhaps as a result of increased uncertainty during the harvest season.

By that measure, December corn options are trading at close to 10-year lows for this time of the year. That means they are effectively available for a discount. What’s more, because options have value until the day they expire, you can further reduce your net sunk costs by making adjustments — buying or selling options — as the market moves. In that way, you cannot only protect your corn price level, you can also leverage market volatility for incremental gains that improve your bottom line.

Be cautious, not complacent
Although this year’s corn crop is likely to be large (and a welcome development for hog farmers), it is important to not grow complacent with the market. Remember that the view around you won’t last forever, and is just a piece of the whole corn market picture.

Options may help you add valuable flexibility to your risk management plan, allowing you to both protect yourself from price increases and take advantage of declines. But using options isn’t a simple yes-no decision. You also need to consider how much of your exposure to hedge, when to act and when to sit tight. If you have questions about whether an option strategy can help you gain more control over your bottom line, please contact Commodity & Ingredient Hedging at 312-596-7755 or [email protected].

There is a risk of loss in futures and options trading. The information contained in this publication is taken from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed by Commodity & Ingredient Hedging LLC nor any affiliates, subsidiary, or employee, collectively referred to as CIH, as to accuracy or completeness, and is intended for purposes of information and education only. Nothing therein should be considered as a trading recommendation by CIH. The rules and regulations of the individual exchanges should be consulted as the authoritative source on all contract specifications and regulations. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Copyright 2016 Commodity & Ingredient Hedging, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cheap corn, soybeans play well into hogs’ needs

Though price fluctuations will allow other feedstuffs to creep into hogsrsquo diets corn and soybeans are still the kings for top performing pigs
<p>Though price fluctuations will allow other feedstuffs to creep into hogs&rsquo; diets, corn and soybeans are still the kings for top performing pigs.</p>

USDA estimates that corn and soybean farmers will be seeing record-sized crops of both commodities this fall, leading to what the agency also predicts as lower prices producers will receive for their grains.

In USDA’s Crop Production released Aug. 12, corn production is forecast at 15.2 billion bushels, up 11% from last year. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 175.1 bushels per acre, up 6.7 bushels from 2015. If realized, this will be the highest yield and production on record for the United States. Soybean production is forecast at a record 4.06 billion bushels, up 3% from last year. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average a record 48.9 bushels per acre, up 0.9 bushel from last year.

With those big crops, the USDA is also predicting that corn will have an average gate price of $3.15 per bushel, down from $3.60 for the current marketing year ending on Aug. 31. Soybeans’ cash price is estimated at $9.10 per bushel, down from $9.50 a bushel estimated in July.

All this adds up to good news for hog producers as corn and soybeans, in the form of soybean meal, remain the main ingredients in pig diets, and these feedstuffs should be economical.

Hans Stein, University of Illinois animal science professor, has overseen many research projects looking at alternative feedstuffs, “but nobody goes away from corn and soybean meal unless they can save money.”

Research done by Stein’s team at the University of Illinois has studied nutritional variances in soybean meal; ensuring producers are getting the most benefit for their swine herds.

In one such project, Stein’s team was concerned, and sought to find, if soybeans produced in various parts of the country resulted in variances of the nutritional value of soybean meal.

“It is well documented that soybeans grown in northern growing areas of Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, those soybeans contain less crude protein compared to soybeans grown further south in say Illinois, Indiana and Ohio,” he says. The first question the Stein team set out to answer was if the lower crude protein values translated to impacting the soybean meal quality. “We wanted to determine concentrations of nutrients and digestibility of amino acids, phosphorous and energy, in soybean meal that we had sourced from various regions of the United States.”

Maybe surprising, Steins says, was the finding that in terms of amino acids digestibility and concentration of digestible amino acids, there was very little difference. “So whether you buy your soybean meal from Minnesota, or Iowa or Ohio, there is very little impact on the concentration of digestible amino acids in that meal, which in many ways I guess it makes it easier to formulate diets,” he says. “If you buy U.S. soybean meal, you know what you get.”

Stein clarifies his surprise by these findings by saying that the knowledge of crude protein variances from north to south in the United States, “we thought that there would be differences in the soybean meal as well, but there are so few differences that you wouldn’t consider important.” The reason, Stein says, is that the majority of the extra protein in the soybeans from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois is made up of amino acids that are not essential to pigs. “When you look at the essential and dispensable amino acids, there is really very little difference between the different sources of the soybeans.”

Stein says phosphorous digestibility, as well as the effects of adding phytase to soybean meal showed no differences regardless of where in the United States the soybean meal originated from.

In addition to soybean meal having similar nutritional values regardless of where it is produced in the United States, recently completed research at the University of Illinois finds that U.S. soybean meal is top-notch when compared to other countries of origin.

Researchers compared amino acid digestibility in soybean meal produced in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, China and India, collecting five sources of soybean meal from each country. Though Stein admits confirmation of U.S. soybean meal’s superiority may not necessarily be a benefit to U.S. hog producers “because U.S. hog producers use U.S. soybean meal,” these findings are important in the global marketplace.

“For the soybean industry who is exporting soybeans and soybean meal all over the world, and compete with soybean meal from these other countries, for those people it is very important,” he says. This research was funded by support from the U.S. soybean associations. “What we found is that there is nothing out there that competes with U.S. soybean meal … U.S. soybean meal was significantly better in amino acid digestibility when compared with soybean meal from Argentina and India in particular, and to some degree better than Brazilian soybean meal.”

As mentioned before, Stein-led researchers have studied various feed ingredients, oilseeds and protein sources. And through all those studies, one thing that remains clear is that you cannot beat soybean meal.

“Of all the protein sources we work with, there is far less variability with amino acid concentration and amino acid digestibility in soybean meal compared to any other protein ingredient you can get your hands on,” he says. Though not talked about much, Stein sees uniformity as key in formulating diets for pigs. “That becomes very important that the feed you get delivered into the bin has a composition that is close to what you have in your formulation. So you know what you’re getting.” Stein says that uniformity does not yet exist with the other protein ingredients.

U.S. soybean meal’s uniformity is a valuable component to the hog producer’s feed equation in the event that soybean meal may be pricing itself out of an economical diet. “There is value in knowing what you’re actually producing, because if you get a feed ingredient into the formulation that contains less nutrients that you thought it would, that means that you’re producing a finished feed that contains less nutrients, and that means you are short-changing your pigs a little bit, so that will cost you.”

Not for the young
Though soybean meal is a suitable source of protein for hogs, there are issues that the ingredient may present for younger pigs, say pigs under 40 pounds.

Anti-nutritional factors in soybean meal fed to young pigs have forced producers to look at other — mostly animal-based — protein sources for the young pig diets. Fish meal, milk proteins or poultry meal are some protein sources that Stein says are being used in young pigs’ diets.

However, over the last 10 years there have been strong developments that are increasing the use of soybean meal in the formulations for your pigs. “That soybean meal is being processed in such a way that the anti-nutritional factors are being eliminated,” he says, “this means that you can use soybean meal that is being processed in this certain way in little pigs’ diets.”

Steins says to be suitable for young pigs, this soybean meal is put through a fermentation process or enzyme treatment that breaks down the anti-nutritional factors in the soybean meal. The problem is there are only a few companies currently using these processes.

Fishmeal, that has historically been the protein source of choice for feeding young pigs, is a depleting supply. “World is running out of fishmeal,” Stein says, “There are fewer fish to be caught, and therefore we have less fishmeal, and the production of aqua feed is growing very quickly and some of the farmed fish that we raise require fishmeal because they are carnivores. So whatever fishmeal we have left goes to the aqua feed industry.”

Stein predicts that in five to 10 years you will see all the diets for young pigs will be formulated using this further processed soybean meal. He also predicts you will see animal proteins leaving swine diets, with the exception of plasma protein for the very early weaning diet.

Crushers getting it right
Stein credits the U.S. soy processing industry for the uniformity of a quality soybean meal product. “U.S. soybean crushers do a phenomenal job processing soybean meal, because they have very good quality control. That you don’t always see in other countries,” Stein says. “It helps that the industry is concentrated with large companies operating the crushing facilities because these companies have engineered their plants to produce a high-quality product. If you had a fragmented industry with small companies without as much expertise, it might be much more difficult to have that consistency in the final product.” He feels that may be why some sources of soybean meal from other countries lags in quality and consistency compared to U.S. soybean meal.

The down side to an industry headlined by four big processors is that “it is difficult for the large processors to produce specialty products” such as the aforementioned fermented soybean meal for younger pigs. “But to produce large amounts of high-quality product, our industry is second to none.”

A growth market Stein sees will be new companies working to produce newer types of soybean meal for younger pigs, and “some of the excitement is that there will be more demand for that product. … Our job here is to guide some of those new companies to improve their products. I think that will continue for a long time.”

Increase in energy
Stein’s studies have shown that nutritional values of soybean meal produced across the country are fairly equal, and that U.S. soybean meal reigns supreme above soybean meal from other countries, but are we still giving soybean meal the credit it truly deserves?

The short answer, Stein says, is no.

A University of Illinois study used 23 different sources of soybean meal obtained from crushing plants in four zones in the United States. Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota comprised Zone 1; Georgia, Indiana and Ohio made up Zone 2; Zone 3 was Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, and Zone 4 was Illinois. “This was maybe the largest analysis ever done in the world.”

Concentrations of digestible energy, metabolizable energy, and net energy were the same for soybean meal from Zones 1, 2, and 4, but soybean meal from Zone 3 contained less DE, ME and NE than soybean meal from Zones 1 and 2. Results indicate that soybean meal produced in the United States – regardless of growing area – provides more energy to pigs than what is indicated in current feed composition tables, including values published in the most recent tables from the National Research Council.

“Book values may be from soybean meal produced 20, 30, 40 years ago, so genetics of soybeans could have changed, but it’s also possible those book values were based on very few samples that had been analyzed,” thus the reason for the extensive sources tested.

The bottom line is that soybean meal produced in the United States contains at least 200 kcal more DE, ME and NE than indicated by current book values. “If you get 10% more energy out of your soybean meal, that makes that soybean meal more attractive in formulations so you can actually formulate diets that are less expensive,” he says.

On the corn side of the pig diet, Stein’s lab has done more work with the corn coproducts — DDGS, DDG, corn gluten meal, corn germ meal — of the corn wet and dry milling industry, than with corn grain itself. However, a recent study looked at the effect that corn particle size has on energy uptake by the pigs, amino acid digestibility, as well as the digestibility of phosphorous and starch.

For this study, the same batch of corn was ground to four different particle sizes — average particle size of 865, 677, 485 and 339 microns — and fed to growing pigs. Results demonstrated that particle size does not influence the digestibility of amino acids or phosphorous, but it does influence starch digestibility, “so the finer you grind the corn, the greater the digestibility of starch. The more digestible the starch is, the more glucose can be absorbed by the pigs,” Stein says. “Therefore they get more energy out of it,a and as a consequence, the concentration of digestible energy in corn grain increases as particle size is reduced.”

Though the main reason for using corn grain in the diet for the energy pigs get out of it, the downside is the finer you grind the corn, the greater the risk that your pigs can get some intestinal inflammation and ulcers which is to be avoided, of course. Stein says that presents a question producers have to ask themselves for what fits their farm. He acknowledges there may be some genetic components of the pigs themselves, “but it may also be tied to what else is in the diet. If you have high fiber in the diet, you may be able to grind your corn finer than if you only have a corn-soybean diet.”

This fall’s harvest appears to be stacking up to provide a plentiful, and economical, supply of corn grain and soybean meal for hog producers to lower their inputs. Hogs aren’t the only consumers of corn grain, as ethanol plants also like cheap corn, and “producers of ethanol will continue to produce ethanol, and they are benefiting from low corn prices so the plants will continue to run, and they will continue to produce DDGS. We will get 40 million tons of DDGS, and that will need to be moved and they will be forced to price the DDGS so that it will try to get into the rations, even if corn gets down to $2.50 to $3, Stein says.

With that in mind, hog producers need to remember they are feeding their pigs to perform their best. “Nobody goes away from corn and soybean meal unless they can save money. That’s not going to change,” Stein says. “Other ingredients aren’t used to improve the performance of the pigs; they are included in the diets to save costs for the producer. We hope we can maintain the same performance, but we reduce the cost. Producers need to keep that in mind as they use wheat middlings or DDGS.”

Pork, beef industries adjusting to large market shocks

Pork, beef industries adjusting to large market shocks

Producers of beef and pork have been discouraged about recent low prices as cash prices have dropped sharply this year. According to a Purdue University Extension economist, spring finished cattle price highs were near $138 per live hundredweight, but last week fell to $115, a $23 plunge. And the story is story is similar for hogs. After seeing yearly highs at $81 for a national lean price in the third week of June, prices have dropped $20, or 25%, in the past two months.

“Stepping back to take a longer view, finished cattle prices have been dropping since late-2014 when they reached record highs around $173,” says Chris Hurt. “From $173 to $115 means, finished cattle prices have now dropped 34%. It is the same story for hogs, but with even bigger declines. The drop from the $130 record in 2014 to $61 today is a 53% reduction.

“It’s not hard to identify reasons for wild swings in prices over the past 10 years as these industries have been forced to adjust to large economic shocks,” Hurt explains. “The severe multi-year drought in the Southern Plains was one of those shocks for the beef sector. The other was the period of surging feed prices starting in the fall of 2006 and continuing to mid-year 2013.”

What is the supply gap?
“Drought in cattle country and high feed prices caused economic losses that forced supplies downward,” Hurt continues. “As a result, the supply of beef, pork, chicken and turkey dropped from 220 pounds per person in 2007 to just 201 pounds by 2014, creating a 19-pound supply gap. Low available supplies in 2014 brought record-high prices for cattle, hogs, and chickens. Turkey prices moved even higher in 2015 because of additional lost production due to avian influenza.”

Hurt says the highest animal prices were in 2014 and 2015, at the same time feed prices began to moderate with the large 2013 and 2014 crops. High animal prices and lower feed prices meant record profitability.

“Record profitability was the signal producers needed to start expansion, and they will likely continue on that path for several more years,” Hurt says.

Thus, the meat industries are now in the process of filling the supply gap. Current USDA forecasts for 2017 are that U.S. per capita meat supplies will be back up to 216 pounds.

“That’s a burst of 15 added pounds since the 2014 low of just 201 pounds and just four pounds short of the record consumption in 2007, which was based on the era of $2 per bushel corn,” Hurt says.

According to Hurt, supply adjustments have been different for the pork and the beef sectors. Reduction in pork consumption per person was four pounds from 2007 to 2014. By 2017, pork will have recovered all of that reduction and be back up to 2007 per capita supplies. Pork will fill its supply gap.

“The pattern is much different for the beef sector that experienced more trauma and cannot increase production as quickly as poultry and pork,” Hurt says. “From 2007 to 2014 beef availability dropped by 11 pounds per capita and in 2017 is expected to still be about 10 pounds below 2007 levels. This means beef has only made a small step toward filling the supply gap.”

Hurt lists three important implications.

♦ First, the beef sector has been retaining females and this means that the size of the calf crops will be increasing over the next two years and per capita beef supplies will likely increase for two to three years.

♦ Second, the chicken industry has already filled its supply gap and more as 2017 per capita chicken supplies are expected to be six pounds more than supplies in 2007.

♦ Third, it is increasingly looking like the meat and poultry industries will totally fill the supply gap in the next three years with per capita meat and poultry supplies returning to near the 2007 record of 220 pounds. However, beef is not likely to reach its 2007 levels, with chicken taking most of that market share.

“A critical factor in a continued increase in per capita meat supplies will be moderate feed prices,” Hurt says. The potential record 2016 corn and soybean crops suggests that corn, soybean meal and forage prices over the next 12 months will be some of the lowest of the past decade. This is likely to stimulate somewhat more meat production for 2017 than the USDA forecasts used here.

Why are animal prices moving lower?
“The big picture answer is that the animal industries are rebuilding per capita supplies because of lower feed prices and restocking brood cows in the Southern Plains,” Hurt says. “It seems likely that the meat industry will fill the supply gap that was created from 2007 to 2014. The meat industries are expected to continue to increase supplies until animal product prices drop to levels that approach breakeven levels.”