Feedstuffs - February 2022
We take great pleasure in welcoming you to the brand-new Feedstuffs.
With every edition, we aim to bring the latest in news, insight, nutrition and...
We take great pleasure in welcoming you to the brand-new Feedstuffs.
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From the editors of Feedstuffs
Vaccine mandates and OSHA: What do you need to know? (video)
As an employer, what do you need to know about the vaccine mandates? Are you reporting COVID incidents to OSHA? When should you be and when are you okay not reporting? Gary Huddleston, Director, Feed Manufacturing & Regulatory Affairs with the American Feed Industry Association, recently sat down with us to walk us through what OSHA has done around COVID to date. He also provided some guidance on what feed facilities should be doing to prepare and comply.
2021 a record-breaking year
for U.S. agricultural exports
The American agricultural industry posted its highest annual export levels ever recorded in 2021. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the final 2021 trade data published by the Department of Commerce shows that exports of U.S. farm and food products to the world totaled $177 billion, topping the 2020 total by 18% and eclipsing the previous record, set in 2014, by 14.6%.
The United States' top 10 export markets all saw gains in 2021, with six of the 10 – China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia – setting new records. Worldwide exports of many U.S. products, including soybeans, corn, beef, pork, dairy, distillers grains and pet food, also reached all-time highs. China remained the top export destination, with a record $33 billion in purchases, up 25% from 2020, while Mexico inched ahead of Canada to capture the number two position with a record $25.5 billion, up 39 percent from last year.
Infrastructure plan funds crucial Lock & Dam 25
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will target $829.1 million investment in lock and dam modernization projects along the Upper Mississippi River with funding made available in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. A significant priority for soybean and grain farmers was the $732 million designated to complete the design and construction of the Lock and Dam 25.
Powerful microscopy sheds light
on FMD virus replication
The imaging of vanishingly tiny structures created by the foot-and-mouth disease virus could one day help scientists develop new treatments for infected animals. In a new study published this week, biologists from Leeds in collaboration with colleagues at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, observed the interaction between components of the virus in test tube experiments under biosecure conditions.
Study examines companionship
motivation of young calves
A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), scheduled for publication in the January 2022 issue of JDS Communications, examines young dairy calves’ motivation to seek companionship from other calves.
Arginine, creatine boosts pig birth weight
in Texas A&M study
A Texas A&M University research team working with two amino acids, arginine and methionine, and the metabolite creatine in pigs is making great strides to improve the overall litter weight and health of individual piglets.
The team, with Fuller Bazer, Ph.D., Regents Fellow, Distinguished University Professor, Presidential Impact Fellow and holder of the O.D. Butler Chair in Animal Science, as lead, was recently granted a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant for $650,000.
Nearly 4 million tons of cottonseed
to be available for cattle producers
Dairy and cattle producers can expect to see an increase in whole cottonseed supply this year. According to the USDA’s December cotton and wool outlook report, cotton production is estimated at 18.3 million bales, a 25% increase from the 2020 crop year. Whole cottonseed supply is estimated to be about 1 million tons more than last year.
With the increase in the 2021 U.S. upland cotton crop, producers will see increased availability of whole cottonseed to incorporate into their cattle rations.
“The increase in whole cottonseed availability is mainly coming out of Texas. They had a favorable growing season compared to last year, which has increased production. When compared to the previous year, Mid-South and Southeast production has remained steady,” Larry Johnson, gin consultant and owner of Tactical Risk Advisors explains.
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Names in the News
New hires, promotions, retirements
Herschleb named general manager
of World Dairy Expo
World Dairy Expo recently announced Laura Herschleb as the next WDE General Manager. Herschleb will begin her duties on February 28, 2022, as current General Manager Scott Bentley prepares to retire. In this role, Herschleb will provide leadership, vision and strategic oversight to the organization and lead its dedicated team to produce the world’s largest dairy event.
Sandra Lausecker named president, CEO
of Nature Pure Egg Farm
Nature Pure recently announced that Sandra Lausecker has been named as the egg company’s new president and CEO. Lausecker is the second generation to run the family-owned and operated farm, and she will succeed her father, Kurt, who is retiring from the business after a 44-year career.
Nobis Agri Science announces new hire
Nobis Agri Science is pleased to welcome Logan Zanzalari as its newest dairy nutrition and management consultant. Logan is a graduate of Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in ag sales and marketing. He joined the Nobis Agri Science team in February 2022 after 4.5 years in the Northeast Ohio region.
Boomer and Lytle retire from Arm & Hammer
Two long-time dairy industry professionals have recently retired from Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production.
Dr. Gene Boomer, Texas, and David Lytle, Pennsylvania, have both retired after spending their careers working to advance the health and productivity of dairy cattle.
Carter promoted at Brock Grain Systems
Cary Carter has been promoted to vice president of supply chain and operational excellence for Brock Grain Systems, according to Jack Stambaugh, vice president and general manager for the CTB Inc. business unit. In his new position, Carter will be responsible for the performance of all supply chain functions, including procurement, planning, scheduling and inventory control.
Tuttle promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for Brock Grain Systems
John Tuttle has been promoted to Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Brock Grain Systems, according to Jack Stambaugh, Vice President and General Manager for the CTB, Inc. business unit. Tuttle’s responsibilities include researching, developing and executing sales initiatives, creating effective marketing campaigns that augment the BROCK brand while also providing leadership to the domestic sales team to ensure that revenue and profitability goals are achieved.
National Pork Board announces new staff leadership
The National Pork Board has made some recent staff leadership changes to help ensure its ability to deliver on pork producer priorities for the Checkoff.
Dustin (Dusty) Oedekoven, DVM, will join NPB as the organization’s new chief veterinarian on Feb. 25. Oedekoven will lead a team of veterinarians and swine production experts in Pork Checkoff-funded work to deliver on the No. 1 concern for pork producers – foreign animal disease preparedness and protecting the U.S. herd from African swine fever. Oedekoven most recently served as state veterinarian and executive secretary for the South Dakota Animal Industry Board where he provided strategic leadership and direction for the state's animal health agency – a seven-member, governor-appointed board of livestock producers with responsibility for all animal health programs and disease control efforts in the state. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University and bachelor of science degree from South Dakota State University.
Patrick Webb, DVM, will now serve as NPB's assistant chief veterinarian. Webb will continue implementing Pork Checkoff-funded FAD prevention and preparedness efforts, including AgView software adoption for disease response and advocating for Secure Pork Supply plans. In addition, he will play a key role in developing a unified swine industry approach for managing and responding to FAD threats and serve as a primary point of contact for the U.S. Swine Health Improvement Program during the pilot program.Additionally,
Brett Kaysen, Ph.D., who most recently served as the senior vice president of sustainability for NPB, has taken on the role of senior vice president of producer and state engagement.
Watch for Names in the News announcements as they happen throughout the month on Feedstuffs.com and via your Feedstuffs Daily newsletter.
INSIDE WASHINGTON: Supply chain bottlenecks inhibiting ag trade
Ag industry seeks immediate action from Biden administration, Congress and FMC to hold shippers accountable.
By Jacqui Fatka
In the first seven months of this year, shipping supply chain issues cost the U.S. dairy industry nearly $1 billion in additional expenses, lost sales and eroded value, shared California dairy farmer Simon Vander Woude during a recent House Agriculture Committee hearing morning.
The dairy industry is not alone in facing challenging supply chain constraints, including some estimates noting as much as 22% in lost agricultural sales due to the supply chain limitations.
Over 70% of containers are leaving West Coast ports empty, an all-time record as boats rush back to China and filled with their own products to meet the unsatiable demand from U.S. consumers.
PORT CONGESTION RELIEF? Container ships are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as they wait to offload on September 20, 2021 near Los Angeles, California. Amid nationwide record-high demand for imported goods and supply chain issues, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are currently seeing unprecedented congestion.
House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chair Jim Costa, D-Calif., noted at the onset of the hearing on Nov. 17 that short and long-term solutions are needed to help address the ongoing supply chain constraints negatively impacting the agricultural sector and recognized many of the witnesses’ testimony raised supply chain concerns multiple times.
Costa noted the signing of the bipartisan infrastructure bill offers funding for ports and harbors and includes language to allow for a pilot program to encourage the training of younger truck drivers. Additional action and insight are desired to hear how best to alleviate the concerns, Costa said.
Jen Sorenson, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said with regard to U.S. ports, the United States is facing a massive backlog of containers waiting to be loaded into vessels and dozens of ships waiting to offload cargo at West Coast ports. Such disruptions are particularly acute for agricultural goods, many of which are perishable, including pork. A majority of farm products exported to the Asia-Pacific region route through the ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., and Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.
Sorenson told members the supply chain disruptions at the ports are a grave concern. “We do not want to be potentially viewed as an unreliable trading partner. We want to deliver a product that has been ordered,” she said, explaining when a foreign buyer desires chilled pork, U.S. producers don’t want to lose value on having to freeze it because of shipping delays.
Vander Woude, who testified on behalf of the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, added that last month the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, California Dairies Inc., which he serves as the chairman of the board, saw 60% of their orders cancelled or delayed because of shipping container issues.
Vander Woude said there are immediate needs that require action. “We can’t wait. We need the Federal Maritime Commission to act. We need to get creative and think outside of the box” whether that’s mandating something with those international carriers, he said. “Let’s exert any control we have to get our products on those ships.”
Almond grower Kent Stenderup, managing partner at Stenderup Ag Partners and on behalf of Blue Diamond Almonds, testified, “We don’t want foreign markets to function without U.S. products as now we’re talking about 2023 before things return to normal. They can forget us quickly,” Stenderup said.
Getting FMC to act
NMPF and USDEC Executive Vice President for Policy Jaime Castaneda says USDEC and NMPF started in January working on how to solve issues that began to hinder U.S. dairy exports at the ports. Among various actions like creating a member working group early in the year as well as meeting with numerous government officials, USDEC and NMPF began working with a coalition and members of Congress to draft legislation with Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D. – the Ocean Shipping Reform Act – which forces the FMC to act.
Many witnesses and House Agriculture Committees members who are co-sponsors of the ocean reform bill offered support for passage. Castaneda also said he expects to have a companion bill introduced soon by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D.
The FMC is an independent entity, and Castaneda said many people don’t even know it exists. “They have a lot of power,” Castaneda said of the FMC. “But it seems that they refuse to use it. With the amount of things happening, you don’t see anything from them. We’ve not seen any significant action that they have taken.” Castaneda said one of the main objectives of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is to not give the FMC a choice, but rather require them to take action.
SHOW COVERAGE: IPPE-Atlanta and NCBA-Houston
Feedstuffs editors bring you coverage from IPPE in Atlanta and NCBA in Houston.
CattleFax forecasts positive profitability trends in 2022 NCBA
Cattle price and profitability trends for producers are pointed in the right direction, even as challenges and uncertainty persist with continued disruptions from the pandemic. While issues around labor and packing capacity have lingered, both are expected to improve in the year ahead. These expansions in capacity combined with strong global and domestic consumer beef demand suggests increased profitability across segments, signaling a market that is healthier and more stable in the year ahead, according to CattleFax.
Supply chain disruptions, price volatility impact feed sector
Supply chain disruptions, price volatility and more were the topics addressed during IPPE in Atlanta. Joining us to do just that in this Feedstuffs 365 interview was Ryan Lane, president of ADM Animal Nutrition North America.
What's ahead for the animal nutrition and food safety sector?
Scott Druker, general manager of Arm & Hammer Animal & Food Production, talked with us during IPPE in Atlanta about his company's recent realignment announcement. He also gave us an outlook for the animal nutrition and food safety business in 2022.
Safeguarding a growing pet food industry
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) recently wrapped up its 15th annual Pet Food Conference (PFC), informing nearly 300 pet food professionals of the latest news within this growing industry and providing tips for how to face upcoming challenges. The daylong conference also included the announcement of two Friend of Pet Food Award winners.
“Our industry changes and presents new challenges and opportunities by the second – from the discovery of novel ingredients like green banana flour to the trickle-down effects of a Mexico genetically modified organism ban,” said Louise Calderwood, AFIA’s director of regulatory affairs. “Staying ahead of these issues is key to a prosperous and evolving pet food industry.”
NCBA releases 2022 policy priorities
During the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, the executive committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) approved the organization’s 2022 policy priorities with an emphasis on strengthening the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the cattle industry.
Visit www.Feedstuffs.com for more coverage.
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PODCASTS: Feedstuffs in Focus and Feedstuffs Precision Pork
Understanding the beef supply chain in a "Post-COVID world" ... PLUS the importance of water quality in your hog operation.
Beef prices – like all food prices – have increased as the inflationary story in the marketplace unfolds. Thus far consumers haven’t balked at paying higher prices for their favorite center-of-plate protein, but how long can that demand hold out? And what is the outlook for the cattle producer as feed costs escalate, too?
Don Close is an agricultural economist, and senior animal protein analyst with Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team. He recently released a report on the beef supply in a “post-COVID world,” discussing a series of challenges facing the beef supply chain in the coming year. I spoke with Don about those challenges, and how beef demand has remained so resilient in the face of inflation the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a generation.
This episode is sponsored by Novus International, Inc. — a leader in poultry, dairy and swine nutrition solutions driven by science. Novus’ products and services look at the whole animal, focusing on productivity and well-being, in order to feed the world affordable and wholesome food.
On any given day a producer must think about feed costs, biosecurity measures, vaccinations, marketing.. the list goes on. One area of production that is often overlooked is water quality. Ensuring that water is of good quality, properly delivered, and available to all pigs is not always as easy as it sounds.
In this episode, we talk with Erin Ehinger, Cargill Production Support Specialist, and Bob TenHove, Cargill Account Manager, to discuss why water is important and what a producer can do to ensure good water quality.
Plan today for tomorrow’s success. These are uncertain times, and it will pay dividends to be well-prepared. Hog nutrition experts at Cargill are available to assist you with your questions.
Meet PerforMix Nutrition Systems: The 2021 Feed Facility of the Year Liquid Feed winner
AFIA and Feedstuffs congratulate PerforMix Nutrition Systems of Rupert, Idaho, for earning the 2021 Liquid Feed Facility of the Year award.
By Sarah Muirhead
It isn’t often there’s an opportunity to design and build a facility based on years of industry experience and the associated knowledge that comes with knowing what works and what can perhaps be done better. At Performix Nutrition Systems LLC in Rupert, Idaho, that is exactly how the facility came to be in 2016.
The facility and team are the 2021 Liquid Feed Facility of the Year as named by the American Feed Industry Association and Feedstuffs. The announcement was made during AFIA’s Liquid Feed Symposium.
The Rupert facility generates approximately 56,000 tons of feed a year, primarily for beef and dairy cattle. PerforMix as a company is focused on the custom manufacturing of liquid and dry feed supplements for feedyard, dairy, cow-calf, and stocker operations throughout the West. One of it's largest customers is its parent company, The AgriBeef Company. PerforMix’s first president was Rich Rawlings, long considered a feed industry leader and recognized among the pioneering families in the liquid supplement business.
Kirk Bowman, director of operations at PerforMix, is another long-time fixture with the company and was instrumental in the design of the Rupert facility, He also has driven much of the company’s push toward constant improvement over the years. “Our size and scale is an advantage and allows for increased efficiency,” said Bowman
Up until the last couple of years, not a lot of capital expenditures needed to be applied to the facility as it was still relatively new but one improvement that was undertaken was that of upgrading the facility’s finish product tank system. Bowman explained that seven finish product tanks were added to the existing tank farm, taking the total number to 17 finish product tanks.
The extra finish storage has allowed for the streamlining of the production process throughout the winter, which is traditionally the busy season. “It has allowed us to be able to produce non-stop without becoming tank locked. It’s given us a better split on the finish tanks so we can segregate them by formula type,” he said, noting there are currently 10 limestone (suspension) tanks, and seven (non-limestone tanks).
“Before the upgrade we were constantly outrunning our transportation and would spend time waiting for tanks to open so we could finish the daily production. It has definitely made it easier adjusting to our 26% growth that we have experienced over the last year,” said Bowman.
Bowman credits the people at the Rupert facility for making the plant outstanding. "We have a group of people that come from very different walks of life. Each person brings a unique set of skills and life experience to our location. It seems that if an employee leaves, we find someone who is a better fit. We only have 13 employees at our location so personality and fit sometimes means as much as skillset. he said.
Something must be working right, the plant saw a 12% growth rate in 2020 and maintained a 14% growth rate in 2021. We also navigated the Covid 19 pandemic very well as a company, ensuring customers were covered at all times, said Bowman.
PerforMix relies on innovative methods to produce heavy limestone suspensions. To that, the plant in Rupert has high sheer mixers and automation systems to ensure the uniformity in the products it produces.
As Bowman explained, the company makes use of different suspension tools, but one that works particularly well is colloidal clay. The clay has a configuration where clay particles are magnetically attracted to one another to create a sort of structure that will support insoluble ingredients such as limestone when product is placed in a tank.
In addition to offering a variety of custom formulations, the PerforMix team also provides tanks and setup on farm to make it easy for cattle producers to accurately dispense liquid products.
PerforMix delivers to its customers using its own fleet of trucks that have a variety of trailer styles and load size capabilities. When the sight gauge on a tank shows it time to reorder, customers can call a toll-free number to schedule their next delivery. Optionally, they can turn to PerforMix’s custom inventory tracking system to schedule reorders.
“Our customer service staff uses a proprietary software system to track customer inventory. Our field staff checks the level of sight gauge to verify usage, thereby allowing the company to alert its customers when they are getting low and a load needs to be scheduled,” said Bowman.
PerforMix is FSC36 Safe Feed/Safe Food certified. This is a voluntary program that is third-party audited. It provides the framework for the company’s regulatory mandates while ensuring a necessary foundation for its quality control processes.
“Rest assured that we have critically looked at all aspects of our operation, identifying hazards, eliminating waste, honing our processes to ensure our customer with the safest, and most innovative custom mineral packages on the market today,” said Bowman. “The combination of these efforts, along with our superior people, our first-class service, and our commitment to our customers, ensures that when you use a PerforMix supplement, you are getting the best value in the feed industry.”
NUTRITION & HEALTH: Feeding value of corn grain from different origins
How homogeneous is corn or does it vary by country of origin?
By ALVARO GARCIA, DVM PhD, Livestock Nutritionist with Dellait
and KURT SHULTZ, Senior Director of Global Strategies with the U.S. Grains Council
Corn is the cereal grain most widely used as an energy feedstuffs for livestock. It has been traditionally a quite homogeneous, energy-dense feed ingredient with carbohydrates having the largest impact on its digestible energy. The reduction on the dependence on foreign oil enacted through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 led to the development of new hybrids, changing corn yield and composition with more bushels per acre and more starch per bushel. Despite this, corn is still sold exclusively by weight and and/or volume. While some research has shown US corn to have more starch than that from other origins, it has not been quantified if these differences merit a differential price per ton. To assess this the nutrient composition of corn from three different origins was analyzed with special emphasis on energy.
Corn shipments from Argentina, Brazil, and the US were sampled during 2020 at the destination ports of Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Five sub-samples were obtained from different locations of the container directly from augers or belt throwers. Sub-samples were then composited into one sample identifying date, vessel, country of origin, and destination. Samples were then analyzed for broken corn and foreign material (BCFM), and mycotoxins. Nutrient analyses included dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), acid detergent insoluble crude protein (ADICP), soluble protein (SP), prolamin (PRO), vitreousness (VIT), acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), Starch (STA), ethanol soluble carbohydrates (ESC), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), ether extract (EE), total fatty acids (TFA), non-fibrous carbohydrates (NFC), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and total digestible nutrients (TDN), and net energies (NE) of lactation, maintenance, and gain (NEL, NEm, and NEg, respectively). A total of 75 samples were analyzed, 25 from each of the three countries.
Results and discussion
Protein fractions - Corn composition is in table 1. The US had the lowest (p<0.05) CP concentration with 8.19% compared with Argentina (8.59%) and Brazil (8.68%), which did not differ with each other (Table 1). Protein was further partitioned analytically to determine soluble and insoluble protein. Corn protein is mainly constituted by zein, a highly hydrophobic and insoluble prolamin, which constitutes 45%–50% of all corn proteins. This protein has cross-linked bonds that make it highly hydrophobic and thus protects the starch granules from any external aggressors present in water solution. Zein is part of the so-called “storage proteins”, which protect the starch granules in the endosperm from enzymatic degradation. The more insoluble protein present, the harder it is to enzymatically digest the stored starch. Conversely, more soluble protein suggests starch will be more readily available for enzymatic digestion. The US had the highest (p<0.05) soluble CP with 20.01% compared with the other two countries.
Another aspect of importance with regards to protein availability in feedstuffs is the Maillard reaction. It occurs when feeds are subjected to high temperatures in the presence of moisture, where an amino group of one amino acid and the carbonyl group of a reducing sugar react rendering both undigestible to the animal. It is usually measured by the nitrogen or protein present in the acid detergent fiber of a feed, and labeled as ADIN or ADICP, respectively. Corn grain from the US had the lowest ADICP with 0.55% compared to Argentina (0.64%), and Brazil (0.65%) which did not differ with each other. One possible interpretation
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is that US underwent less heating due to drying compared to either the Argentinian or Brazilian grain.
Prolamin - Corn kernels are made up of three main parts pericarp, embryo, and endosperm. The endosperm is the major component of the kernel, representing 80 to 85% of its total dry weight. Corn starch is stored in this endosperm inside granules of variable size. These granules are imbedded in a protein matrix that protects the starch from enzymatic attack. To optimize starch digestion, it is necessary to disrupt this protein matrix (i.e., grinding, steam flaking, etc.). Prolamin proteins in corn are named zein and comprise 50-60 % of the total protein of the kernel. Floury or opaque endosperm corn types have lower prolamin compared to flint or normal dent corn hybrids. Prolamins define differences in the chemical composition between vitreous dry corn (glassy, translucent) and floury or opaque corns. Prolamin content of dry corn ranges between 2.5 and 5.5 % of the dry matter (Hoffman and Shaver. 2021). Corn grain with more than 4.5 % prolamin as % of the DM is likely more vitreous, whereas corn with lower prolamin (less than 3.0 %) may be opaque-floury hybrids. This report did not find any statistical differences in the prolamin content between countries, which was 2.78%, 2,65%, and 2,65% for Brazilian, Argentinian, and US corn, respectively.
Vitreousness - Vitreousness (glass-like) is determined by the ratio of vitreous and floury endosperm. The vitreous region is translucent, generally located in the periphery of the endosperm. The floury endosperm, usually located in the center of the endosperm is white, floury, and non-translucent. Vitreousness in kernels is determined by the composition of the starch–protein matrix and is responsible for the hardness of the kernels. The floury endosperm has a discontinuous protein matrix that results in soft kernels that break easily. The hardness difference between both types of endosperm can impact the nutritive value of corn, and its brittleness.
Results of this work showed that there were significant differences in vitreousness between countries. Brazilian corn vitreousness was the highest averaging 72.3%, followed by Argentinian with 65.5%, and then US corn with 47.2%, all statistically different from each other. These results indicate US corn had significantly more floury starch compared to the other two origins. Research has shown that with advancing maturity, kernel vitreousness and density increased while starch availability decreased (Correa et al. 20020). Since starch in vitreous dry corn is more extensively encapsulated by prolamins it is less degradable when compared to floury or opaque corns. These results suggest that while US corn can break more easily because of its greater content of floury starch, it can also have higher digestibility compared to the other two origins.
Non-fibrous carbohydrates - Starch constitutes by weight the largest individual chemical constituent of the corn kernel, and as a result has the greatest impact on its energy content. US corn had the highest (p<0.05) starch concentration with 72.67% followed by Brazil’s 70.84%, and Argentina with 69.08% (table 1). Soluble carbohydrates do not greatly impact the energy density of the grain since their concentration is very low. The US had less soluble carbohydrates (1.77%) when compared to Argentina (2.30%) and Brazil (2.13%).Superscripts in a same row with different letters differ (p≤0.05). ADICP = acid detergent insoluble crude protein; ADF = acid detergent fiber; NDF = neutral detergent fiber; WSC = water soluble carbohydrates; NFC = non-fibrous carbohydrates; TDN = total digestible nutrients; EE = ether extract (lipids); TFA = total fatty acids.
Other carbohydrate fractions of importance to assess the energy content of corn were also analyzed. Non-fiber carbohydrates (NFC) sometimes called nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) are calculated by difference such that NFC = [100- (%NDF + %CP + %Fat + Ash)]. The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System defines NFC as [100 - ((%NDF - %NDFCP)+ %CP + %Fat + Ash)]. This latter equation is more correct because it doesn’t double-count the protein that is contained in the NDF. Non fibrous carbohydrates greatly impact the energy value of cereal grains since they constitute their greatest portion by weight. The US had the highest (p<0.05) NFC concentration with 79.46% compared to both Argentina (76.74%), and Brazil (77.87%), which did not differ between them.
The structural carbohydrate or fiber portion dilutes the energy concentration of feedstuffs and can be used to estimate it. Both acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber have been used extensively, the former because it is negatively correlated with digestibility in ruminants, while the latter not only with digestibility but also feed intake. Argentina had the highest (p<0.05) ADF with 3.17% compared with Brazil (2.60%) and the US (2.39%). Argentina had also the highest (p<0.05) NDF concentration with 9.21% while the US and Brazil had similar concentrations between them, with 7.44% and 8.23%, respectively. Since energy is oftentimes predicted from ADF, it was expected Argentinian corn would have less energy when compared to the other two countries.
Lipid fractions - The needs of the US ethanol industry have focused corn hybrid genetic selection on higher starch, at the expense of other nutrients. Since there is 2.25 times more energy in fat compared to carbohydrates one would intuitively tend to think there would be more energy in corn with higher fat. This is not usually the case since slight increases in NFC concentration have greater effect on the energy content of the grain. An increase in fat of 5% (e.g., 4 to 4.2%) would add only 2 grams of fat per kg of corn, while a similar concentration increase in NFC would add approximately 39 grams of this carbohydrate fraction. Since fat, protein, and carbohydrate are typically estimated to provide respectively 9, 4, and 4 kcal/g, similar changes in concentration of NFC will add more gross energy per kg of grain than fat. Both Argentinian and Brazilian corn had similar total fat and fatty acid concentrations, which were higher (p<0.01) than in US corn (Table 1).
Minerals - Since corn is fed for energy and the minerals contained in the ash do not supply any, the greater the ash content, the lower the energy. Ash was significantly lower (p<0.01) for the US (1.54%) and Brazil (1.56%) compared to Argentina (1.73%). As mentioned above for fat, since ash concentration is small compared to NFC concentration, small changes in the latter will have greater impact on energy concentration than ash content. There were differences in the mineral concentration between countries with calcium lower (p<0.01) for the US (0.02%) compared to Argentina and Brazil (both with 0.03%). Phosphorus was higher for Argentina (p<0.05) with 0.33% compared to Brazil (0.30%) and the US (0.31%) which did not differ between them. Magnesium was higher (p<0.05) for Argentina with 0.14% compared with Brazil and the US both with 0.13%. Potassium was higher (p<0.05) for Argentina with 0.47% when compared to the US (0.43%) and Brazil (0.42%).
Energy content in corn grain - Corn’s energy can vary depending on the hybrid, the region, and the growth conditions. Total digestible nutrients, digestible energy, metabolizable energy, and net energy of lactation (NEL) for dairy cattle were predicted using equations available in the literature. Total digestible nutrients (TDN) report the percentage of digestible material in a feedstuff and as such it can be used to assess its energy density. They can be calculated from the nutrient composition using summative equations or predicted with regression equations from structural carbohydrates (usually ADF). Corn TDN were predicted from its composition using summative equations and NEL from TDN using the regression equation by Weiss (1998). Argentinian corn had the lowest (p<0.05) TDN concentration at 87.7% compared with the US (88.55%) and Brazil (88.23%), which did not differ with each other.
The NEL content (Mcal/kg) was calculated using the equation 0.0245*TDN - .12 (Weiss. 1998)
The regression equations proposed by Li at al. (2014) were used to predict digestible and metabolizable energy in swine. The gross energy content of corn was calculated from total protein, carbohydrate and fat concentration in each country’s sample using the Atwater factors (4, 4, and 9 calories/g, respectively).
Gross energy in calories per g = (carbohydrates x 4) + (Protein x 4) + (fat x 9)
US - 795 x 4 + 81.9 x 4 + 42.1 x 9 = 3,887 Kcal/kg
Argentina - 767 x 4 + 85.9 x 4 + 48.1 x 9 = 3,845 Kcal/kg
Brazil - 779 x 4 + 81.9 x 4 + 42.1 x 9 = 3,823 Kcal/kg
There were no statistical differences of the gross energy of corn, with the US showing the highest numerical value at 3,887 Kcal/kg.
Digestible and metabolizable energy for swine were then calculated from:
1. DE = 1062.68 + (49.72 x EE) – (24.89 x NDF) + (0.54 x corn gross energy) + (9.11 x starch)
2. ME = 671.58 + (0.89 x DE) – (5.59 x NDF) – (191.39 x Ash)
Substituting the values for EE, NDF, Starch, ash, and gross energy for each country in 1 and 2 above.
The equation used to predict apparent ME in poultry was the one validated by Losada et al. (2015):
AME = 2,299.1 − 41.6 × NDF + 0.394 × GE
The energy of US corn was numerically higher regardless of the livestock species.
Broken corn and foreign material (BCFM)
Kernels break upon impact when the stress required for breaking to occur is exceeded (brittleness). Harvesting and drying are the major contributors to breakage potential of any corn hybrid regardless of their original “brittleness”. Combines, for example, can inflict variable damage to the kernels that can be apparent and/or small cracks. During transport and auger loading/unloading, damaged kernels suffer additional physical stresses that expand any fissures. In addition, drying at higher temperatures and shorter times to speed-up the process, result in kernel stress-cracks allowing for further grain deterioration and increased BCFMs.
Because of the importance of this fraction during corn commercialization, it was decided to also analyze its nutritional composition to determine its feeding value. The same equations used to predict the energy in corn grain were also used for BCFM. The analytical values suggest starch is reduced by approximately the same proportion as the other nutrients increase at 8-10% (table 6).
As a result, the energy content of the BCFM was only slightly affected resulting in 96-98% of the value of corn for all livestock species.
NEL Mcal/kg= 2.139-(0.0376*ADF)
NEL Mcal/kg= 2.139-(0.0376*4.72) = 1.96 Mcal/kg
1. DE = 1062.68 + (49.72 x EE) – (24.89 x NDF) + 0.54 x Gross energy) + (9.11 x starch) (Li et al.)
Average GE for corn = 3,840 kcal/kg
2. DE = 1062.68 + (49.72 x 4.79) – (24.89 x 11.39) + 0.54 x 4,053) + (9.11 x 64.87)
3. DE = 3,797 Kcal/kg
4. ME = 671.58 + (0.89 x DE) – (5.59 x NDF) – (191.39 x Ash)
5. ME = 671.58 + (0.89 x 3768) – (5.59 x 11.39) – (191.39 x 2.04)
6. ME = 3,597 Kcal/kg
AME = 2299.1 – 41.6 x NDF + 0.394 x GE
AME = 2299.1 – 41.6 x 11.39 + 0.394 x 4,053
AME = 3,422 Kcal/kg
Mycotoxins - There were no significant differences in mycotoxins between countries (table 7). Concentrations of aflatoxins were very low in all three countries (and well below the 20 ppb FDA action level), with the US showing non-detectable levels. (table 7).
In summary, nutrient composition in corn differed between countries. The most noticeable variations were for starch and non-fibrous carbohydrates, with the US having the highest concentration compared to Argentinian and Brazilian corn. The opposite was also true for fat concentration, with the US showing a lower concentration compared to both Argentina and Brazil. As a result of the greater incidence of total carbohydrates, US had more total digestible nutrients compared to the other two countries. The energy prediction for dairy cattle, swine, and poultry showed the US had numerically higher values for net, digestible, and metabolizable energy, although they were not enough to show statistically significant differences. The lower vitreousness detected in US corn suggests that the kernels are not that hard and can break during transport. It also suggests that the starch protected by the prolamin matrix is likely more easily digestible by mammalian and microbial enzymes. In the present study the energy value of BCFM was 96 to 98% of the value for corn suggesting it has similar nutritional value. Further research with corn fed to livestock is warranted to confirm if these differences have an impact on animal performance.
1. Atwater, W. O. and Woods, C. D. The chemical composition of American food materials. U. S. Department of Agriculture Office of Experiment Stations. Bulletin, 28. 1896.
2. Correa, C.E.S.,R.D. Shaver, M.N. Pereira, J.G. Lauer, and K. Kohn. 2002. Relationship Between Corn Vitreousness and Ruminal In Situ Starch Degradability, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 85, Issue 11, Pages 3008-3012.
3. Hoffman, P. C., and R.D. Shaver. A Guide to Understanding Vitreousness and Prolamins in Corn P.C. New Developments in Analytical Evaluation of Forages (wisc.edu) Accessed 9/30/21.
4. Lee, J., Nam, D.S. & Kong, C. Variability in nutrient composition of cereal grains from different origins. SpringerPlus 5, 419 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-2046-3
5. Li, Q., Zang, J., Liu, D., Piao, X., Lai, C., & Li, D. (2014). Predicting corn digestible and metabolizable energy content from its chemical composition in growing pigs. Journal of animal science and biotechnology, 5, 99. doi: 10.1186/2049-1891-5-11
6. Losada, B., C. de Blas, P. Garcia Rebollar, P. Cachaldora, J. Méndez, and M. Ibáñez. (2015). Short communication: Prediction of apparent metabolizable energy content of cereal grains and by-products for poultry from its chemical composition. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research. 13. 10.5424/sjar/2015132-6573.
7. Moe, P. W., and H. F. Tyrrell. as referenced in the National Research Council. 1989. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle (6th Rev. Ed.) Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
8. Weiss, W. P., 1998. Estimating the available energy content of feeds for dairy cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 81:830-839.
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NUTRITION & HEALTH: How to choose a rumen-protected amino acid
The dairy industry needs a gold-standard method that is accurate, precise, and simple to replicate.
By Dr. Rafael Caputo Oliveira
- Balancing diets through supplementation of specific amino acids helps to improve milk yield and efficiency of protein utilization, increasing economic return to the dairy.
- The lack of a standard method to estimate bioavailability of commercial AA products makes it difficult for nutritionists to choose the most cost-effective product.
- In summary, nutritionists should only rely on bioavailability values of commercial products if they have been evaluated by in vivo experiments and published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Protein is the most expensive nutrient in a dairy cow ration. Moreover, dairy cows are very inefficient in converting dietary protein into tissues or milk (e.g., 20 to 35% efficiency). Balancing diets through supplementation of specific amino acids (AA) helps to improve milk yield and efficiency of protein utilization, potentially increasing economic return. The most important parameter when choosing a specific rumen-protected AA (rpAA) is the cost per unit of bioavailable AA supplied. However, because there are multiple methods to estimate supply of AA from products, the main concern is that a lack of method standardization in the industry makes it difficult for end-users to properly decide on the most cost-effective product. This lack of a standardized method also has implications for researchers trying to understand dose-response mechanisms from AAs fed to dairy cows. Therefore, the dairy industry needs a gold-standard method that is precise, simple to replicate in different research facilities, and most importantly, its bioavailability outputs are applicable for cows under commercial dairy conditions.
This concern was addressed in a symposium at the 2021 ADSA annual meeting. The topic called “Bioavailability of amino acids: Methods and lessons learned” was discussed by Dr. Zanton (researcher at the USDA Dairy Forage), Dr. Whitehouse (professor at University of New Hampshire), Dr. Hanigan (Professor at Virginia Tech), and moderated by Dr. McFadden (professor at Cornell University). The main goal was to discuss the limitations and inference from in vitro, in situ, and in vivo methods to evaluate bioavailability of rpAA products so the dairy industry can move forward.
In vivo methods
Two in vivo methods were discussed by Dr. Whitehouse and Dr. Hanigan as options to standardize the industry. To be a valid technique, the inference from these methods should be for cows under commercial dairy conditions. Therefore, it is important that all treatment doses are within physiological range to avoid changes in the normal metabolism of these cows. Feed abrasion, chewing, and rumination can all potentially break the coating protecting rpAA products, thus it is very important that products are incorporated in the TMR and fed to cows to mimic conditions at commercial dairies.
1) Plasma AA dose response approach:
This method measures bioavailability of rpAA products by comparing the increase in plasma AA concentrations after feeding groups of cows with physiological doses of rpAA products relative to a positive control (Figure 1). The positive control group of cows is supplemented by continuous infusions (throughout the day and for 7d) of physiological doses of unprotected AA into the abomasum, therefore, intestinal absorption is assumed to be 100%. Each group of cows are fed a TMR containing different doses of rpAA 3 times per day for 7d. M
easurements only start after blood AA concentrations are no longer varying within day or among days, meaning that plasma AA entry and exit are in equilibrium. Because it is simple to replicate, it has been adopted in multiple dairy research facilities such as University of New Hampshire, The William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, University of Delaware, and The Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. Dozens of commercial rumen-protected methionine, lysine, and histidine products have been evaluated by this technique in modern lactating dairy cows. In conclusion, this relatively simple technique has high precision and accuracy. If linearity of responses is confirmed, this methodology has no apparent limitations.
2) Stable isotope-based approach:
Stable isotopes are types of atoms that have the same atomic number but with different atomic mass (e.g., 13C or 15N). In summary, groups of animals are fed with rpAA products while being infused with unprotected AA(s) containing stable isotopes used as tracers. This method assesses bioavailability of rpAA products through the relative difference in dilution of stable isotopes-containing AA in blood from animals fed rpAA. This technique requires advanced mathematical modeling experience to fit the data, increasing the level of expertise necessary to perform it. In conclusion, this technique has high precision and as long as it is performed using modern lactating dairy cows it can be applied to the dairy industry.
3) Milk selenium dilution-based approach
Although not discussed in that symposium, the milk selenium dilution method can also be a viable solution for evaluating specific commercial methionine (Met) products. This method estimates the relative supply of metabolizable Met based on changes in the concentration of selenomethionine (SeMet) relative to Met in milk. Because SeMet and Met are interchangeably used by cells as building blocks to make proteins, SeMet can be used as a tracer of Met. In this method if intake of SeMet is constant and supply of metabolizable Met increases, the ratio between SeMet and Met in milk is decreased. For simplicity, the authors proposed to measure concentrations of Se and N in milk as a proxy for concentrations of SeMet and Met in milk. If multiple doses for each treatment are tested and linearity of response occurs, this simpler method could be a simple solution to evaluate bioavailability of commercial Met products.
In vitro and in situ methods
In vitro methods simulate ruminal escape and intestinal digestion of AA through techniques carried out entirely in laboratories. Because there is no animal and dietary influence on the outcome, the results are an inaccurate estimation of true AA bioavailability in dairy cows under farm conditions. Similarly, in situ methods also artificially simulate ruminal escape and intestinal digestion of AA. In summary, rpAA products are placed in nylon bags, introduced in the rumen, and retrieved after some time to estimate the product’s ruminal protection. Because this in situ bags can prevent bacteria from reaching the product, this method overestimates the product’s rumen protection. Following ruminal incubation, mobile bags are introduced into the intestine of animals through duodenal cannulas and retrieved in the manure to estimate intestinal AA digestibility. This method fails to consider that products are subjected to hindgut digestion by bacteria, overestimating the product’s intestinal absorption. Additionally, important factors that can impact bioavailability of rpAA products such as feed abrasion, chewing, and rumination are not accounted for in this technique.
In conclusion, in vitro and in situ techniques overestimate the bioavailability of rpAA. Nutritionists should only rely on bioavailability values of rpAA products if they have been evaluated by in vivo experiments and published in a peer-reviewed journal. As longs as assumptions are met and tests are performed in cows under commercial dairy conditions, all in vivo methods mentioned previously can potentially become the standard technique to estimate AA supply from rpAA products. Cost and simplicity will determine what in vivo technique will be adopted by the dairy industry as a gold-standard method and so far, the plasma AA dose response method is ahead in this race.
NUTRITION & HEALTH: Delaying greater milk replacer feeding can benefit calf starter intake
The key to successful weaning is to have adequate starter intake followed by continued good starter intake.
By Al Kertz, PhD, DIPL ACAN
Weaning is perhaps the greatest change a calf endures after birth and colostrum feeding. There are numerous factors leading up to weaning that affect how calves do in the weaning process and afterwards. Several of these variables were evaluated in a study at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (Parsons et al., 2021).
This study was done at a mechanically ventilated commercial calf raising operation with 84 male Holstein calves sourced from several area dairy farms. Calves were about 3 to 7 days old upon arrival and were sourced over a 2-day period in October 2018.
Calves were housed in individual pens about 3.25 x 4 feet. Pens had rubber slatted floors with no bedding. Calves stayed in these individual pens until the end of the 59-day study and then were moved into group pens.
The milk replacer contained 21% protein 19% fat and was fed in teat buckets. Various behavioral and health observations were made and recorded. Calves had free access to water though nipple dispensers in each pen.
A commercial somewhat textured starter was fed which contained 60% veal starter pellet, 16% whole corn, 16% steam flaked corn, 5% chopped straw, and 3% molasses. It averaged 18% CP on a dry matter basis with 16.5% NDF, 7.6% ADF, and 1% starch.
Click image to view our interview with Dr. Al Kertz on this topic. Follow us each week on Feedstuffs365.com
The study was a 2 x 2 factorial with moderate and lower milk feeding levels and 2 or 4 step weaning programs. From arrival to the end of weaning, calves on the Low Milk (LM) program were fed a total of 55 lb milk replacer during the entire milk feeding phase. All calves received the same milk program from d 1 to 12 (4–5 liters/day), with the milk replacer concentration slowly increasing from d 1 (115 g/L) until d 15 (140 g/L).
Offered milk replacer increased starting day 13 for calves on the Moderate Milk (MM) treatment (total 77 lb fed), compared with calves on the LM treatment.
The MM treatment offered milk replacer peaking at 9 L/d (d 25–29), compared with LM treatment, offering milk replacer which peaked at 5 L/d (d 9–29). Calves were calculated (NRC 2001) to average 1 lb daily gain under the LM treatment and 1.65 lb under the MM treatment.
All calves were gradually weaned according to their randomly assigned weaning treatment from days 30 to 45 by either a 2-step or a 4-step weaning program, depending on their assigned treatment.
Beginning day 46, calves received no more milk and were monitored in the postweaning phase until day 59.
Moderate versus Low Milk Replacer Treatments
Initial bodyweights were similar while during the weaning period (days 38 to 46) calves gained more for low (LM) versus moderate (MM) milk replacer feeding. During the preweaning period (days 1 to 37), calves fed more milk replacer ate less starter as noted in a meta-analysis by Gelsinger et al. (2016). In spite of more calculated metabolizable energy (ME) intake during the preweaning period, this did not affect daily gain (data not shown in paper).
During the weaning period, there was more starter intake for calves on the low milk replacer treatment, reflecting the inverse relationship between milk replacer amount fed and starter intake. Consequently, the resultant daily gain was greater during this period for the low milk replacer treatment.
There were no differences during the weaning period between the two weaning treatments although there were slight differences in milk replacer and starter intakes.
During the weaning period, calves did consume more milk replacer and ME. But no differences in daily gain resulted (figure in paper).
During the postweaning period, there were no significant differences in starter or ME intake although there was some numerical advantage in both for the 4-step weaning treatment.
There is much more data analysis in the report, but I just featured the overall results. Respiratory scoring was also done but showed little difference among treatments during the study. Blood sampling for β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) was done as an indicator of rumen development. This is based on the premise that as rumen papillae development is stimulated most by rumen butyrate levels, the metabolism of butyrate after absorption would be reflected in BHB blood levels.
The Bottom Line
The weaning transition period (2 weeks before and 2 weeks after full weaning) is what I term the third critical period for calves. (The first two are calving conditions and then the first 2 weeks of life). This study found that as more milk replacer was fed (77 vs 55 lb.) over a 45-day period before full weaning, calves ate less starter but with little differences in daily gain. Varying the weaning process from a 2-step vs 4-step procedure from days 30 to 45 likewise had little overall effect. The key to successful weaning is to have adequate starter (preferably textured) intake for 2 to 3 weeks before initiating weaning; and then have continued good starter intake to avoid a slump postweaning. A 2018 NAMHS study (Shivley et al.), showed this is a national problem as Holstein calves daily gained 1.6 lb. before weaning, but slumped to 1.3 lb. postweaning.
Gelsinger, S. L., A. J. Heinrichs, and C. M. Jones. 2016. A meta-analysis of the effects of preweaned calf nutrition and growth on first-lactation performance. J. Dairy Sci. 99:6206-6214.
NRC. 2001. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle, 7th rev. ed., 2001. National Academy Press. Washington, DC.
Parsons, S. D., M. A. Steele, K. E. Leslie, D. L. Renaud, and T. J. DeVries. 2021. Effects of delaying increase in milk allowance and type of gradual weaning program on performance and health of calves fed lower levels of milk. J. Dairy Sci. 104:11176-11192.
Shivley, C.B., J. E. Lombard, Urie, N. J., C.A. Kopral, M. Santin, T. J. Earleywine, J. D. Olson, and F.B. Garry. 2018. Preweaned heifer management on US dairy operations: Part VI. Factors associated with average daily gain in dairy heifer calves. J. Dairy Sci. 101:9245-9258.
NUTRITION & HEALTH: Growing healthier starts with a seed and the feed
Improving soybean meal protein in pig and poultry diets may reduce lifecycle GHGs by more than 4.6%.
FieldRise and Blue Spring Ecosystem scientists and livestock nutritionists have discovered that improving soybean meal protein can reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improves farm-sector revenue at no added cost to farmers.
The team found that improving soybean meal protein in pig and poultry diets automatically reduces lifecycle GHGs more than 4.6%.
The breakthrough happened when agronomists and nutritionists joined to combine data on soybean variety-level feed value, corn demand, and carbon intensity. In addition to discovering the emissions reduction, they found that improving soybean meal protein can boost corn demand beyond 13.8% in broiler diets and 5.2% in pig diets. Improved demand for natural feed would increase overall revenue for crop farmers, who typically grow soybeans and corn in rotation. Soybeans with high nutrient levels also may help livestock producers reduce feed costs, while simultaneously cutting GHGs and energy use.
A 2020 Argonne Lab study found that production of natural corn and soybeans causes less GHG than DDGS and synthetic amino acids. It also found that natural feed produces significantly less emissions than other feed ingredients that compete with corn and soybeans for share of the livestock diet.
Argonne National Laboratory found that natural feed produces significantly less emissions than other feed ingredients that compete with corn and soybeans for share of the livestock diet.
The discovery that improving soybean protein helps reduce emissions and increase corn demand gives farmers new reasons to intensify their fight to reverse decades of declining soybean protein, say those involved. Most farmers, they add, are unaware that they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in soybean sales every year to non-natural feed ingredients.
U.S. soybean protein levels continued declining last year because most seed companies do not breed for protein. Most farmers are unaware that nutritional quality can be controlled through seed selection. This trend causes concern for livestock nutritionists who count on soybeans for high-quality protein.
Peer-reviewed data analysis from thousands of soybean samples in 2017 found billions of dollars in potential farm-sector value and livestock feed-cost and oil value differences hiding at the variety level. Picking a soybean variety is routine. It costs farmers nothing to select seed varieties that delivers higher nutrient levels, and the potential industry payoff is significant, according to the independent science review.
“The data clearly show farm revenue and food sustainability can improve when farmers select soybeans with superior nutritional quality,” according to John Osthus, co-founder of Blue Spring Ecosystem Services and a partner in FieldRise, an independent farm and consumer sustainability practice measurement company.
“Selecting soybean seed based on nutritional quality helps make natural feed more attractive for livestock nutritionists than greenhouse-gas-intensive synthetic feed. The findings fit neatly with the ‘integrated system’ view that USDA uses to define farm sustainability.”
Most companies have declined to improve soybean protein because they are paid for yield, not quality. AgReliant (AgriGold, LG Seeds) and Syngenta were among the first seed companies to announce plans to improve soybean nutrition and oil value.
AgReliant specialty products manager Chuck Hill said, “As a seed company we focus on bringing value to our growers through the products we sell and the services we offer. AgReliant embraces the opportunity to bring more value to growers through higher livestock feed value, increased corn and soybean demand, and improved sustainability. This is a win-win for all involved including the consumer of the finished product.”
Dr. R. Dean Boyd, nutrition research scientist and adjunct professor in animal nutrition at North Carolina State and Iowa State Universities helped the FieldRise team watch the corn amount increase by using higher nutrient value soybean meal, literally one line up in the software that many livestock nutritionists use to formulate feed.
“When soybean meal protein improves, less is needed, but the feed value goes up to replace lost volume,” Boyd points out. “Corn replaces the soybeans and space normally filled by soybean protein alternatives and overall farm revenue increases. In pigs and poultry, the potential corn demand increases and emissions intensity drops.”
University of Wisconsin soybean agronomist and FieldRise founding partner Dr. Shawn Conley said corn demand being directly tied to soybean quality was missed before because agriculture is organized as separate crops. Seeing the “ecosystem view” makes common ground easier to find because most farmers who grow soybeans also grow corn, he said.
“Looking at the marketplace as a network instead as separate crops makes sense with livestock feed because corn and soybeans comprise most of the livestock diets,” Standard Nutrition Company Nutrition Director Dr. Bart Borg explained.
“With the finding that feed contributes up to 90 percent of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, corn and soybean farmers who select the best quality feed improve their own revenue and automatically help their customers like me meet their livestock profit and sustainability goals.”
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FACILITIES: Quality control program without quality assurance can be costly
Image of your company and its bottom line reflective of finished quality of feed product.
By Wilmer Pacheco, Adam Fahrenholz and Charles Stark
The quality of finished feed is defined by its ability to meet the needs and expectations of the customer. Quality assurance and quality control are terms typically used interchangeably. However, quality assurance is a program of systematic activities which includes policies, procedures and process controls that when implemented provide confidence that a product or service will meet quality requirements at all times. Quality control is a component of a quality assurance program and consists of a series of plant processing measurements to make sure that pre-defined quality parameters are achieved during receiving, processing, and feed delivery.
A good quality control program minimizes the likelihood of poor quality products reaching the customer as it focuses on the inspection of ingredients (e.g., mycotoxin, moisture, protein, fat, anti-nutritional factors, etc.) and products (e.g., pellet quality, protein, fat, minerals, etc.) as well as rejection of ingredients or removal of products that don’t comply with established quality standards. Since sampling all the ingredients or finished feeds is unfeasible, the quality control program relies on sampling techniques and frequencies of inspection. If quality is variable, the quality control program becomes more difficult to manage as a higher number of ingredients or feeds needs to be sampled and analyzed to make sure inferior quality ingredients don’t enter the facility or poor quality products don’t leave the facility and enter commerce.
A quality assurance program must address all phases of production from ingredient receiving to loadout, delivery and all the production phases in between. Ingredients used at the feed mill should be purchased from approved suppliers, and employees working in the receiving area should evaluate the condition of the transportation vehicle, and physical quality of grains and feed ingredients. In addition, receiving personnel need to make sure feed ingredients have not been commingled or cross-contaminated with restricted-use mammalian protein. If ingredients are received by rail, each rail car should be inspected to make sure the seals have not been broken prior to unloading. On the other hand, bagged ingredients should be examined to make sure bags have not been torn or broken; additionally, bags should be counted to verify that correct quantity and weight have been delivered.
The next step is to take a representative sample following sampling procedures and analyze it according to a pre-established analytical schedule. Ingredient samples should be retained for at least six months after the feed is manufactured and delivered to the buyer or farm. After ingredients are cleared for receiving, the initial discharge from trucks or rail cars should be monitored visually for any evidence of foreign material or foreign objects. An employee should be present during the unloading process to check the condition and quality of ingredients and stop the process if questions regarding quality arise. During grinding, it is important to define particle size specifications, which might change depending on the species for which the feed is intended to be fed. The next step is to determine sampling frequencies, sample location, amount of sample, sample handling, and methodology used for particle size analysis. The use of sieve agitators and/or sieving agents (e.g., silicon dioxide) should be specified with the results of the particle size analysis, since the use of both or either one of them can influence the result of the analysis.
Furthermore, during batching it is important to define the monitoring frequency of the calibration of scales and liquid meters, weighing tolerances, and review of batch records. If medicated feed additives are used, it is important to monitor drugs receipts, daily usage, reconciliation, and determine acceptable variance between theoretical and actual usages. If the variance is out of tolerance, it is important to define the steps necessary to retain the product or recall any product that has entered commerce, until the root cause of the problem has been determined and corrective action has been taken to ensure the product is safe to feed to animals. Mixing is important to make sure the animals or pets are receiving all necessary nutrients without any deficiencies or toxicities. Therefore, it is important to define the ingredient addition frequency with possible delays between the opening of major, minor and micro scales, length of dry and wet cycles, mixing sequence, flushing, sequencing, cleaning protocols, batch size depending on ingredients’ density, and frequency of mixer uniformity tests.
Many of these parameters can be pre-defined when new formulas are being entered into the system. During thermal processing (conditioning, expanding, pelleting, extrusion), drying, cooling, post pellet liquid applications (PPLA), etc., it is important to define conditioning temperature and retention time during thermal processing, die specifications, bed depth and retention time during cooling, frequency of moisture and temperature monitoring of the finished feed, frequency of calibration of scales and liquid meters among others. If pellet quality falls below the standard, it is important to have an action plan to correct quality issues. Many times, feed mills focus on the physical quality of the pellets but it is equally important to understand the effect of heat processing on the nutrient quality of the finished feed especially when heat sensitive ingredients (enzymes, synthetic amino acids, milk products, etc.) are included in the diets. If possible, a quality assurance program should have a process control person responsible who is constantly visiting different areas of the plant and monitoring the functioning of the equipment and the consistency of a product. The same person can be the liaison between the quality control team and the production team to make sure quality objectives are achieved at all times.
Procedures should be in place to monitor the quality of finished feeds (e.g., nutrient levels, pellet or crumble quality, particle size in mash diets) and to fulfill labeling requirements. It is also important to define the frequency of equipment inspection, loading and unloading protocols, information needed in shipping documents as well as sequencing, flushing, and physical clean out procedures to prevent cross contamination between feeds. The adequate functioning of scales becomes crucial when using bags for the feed; therefore, all used scales should have calibration records and lot number identification and comply with labeling requirements, inventory rotation and warehouse managements. Recently, the usage of QR and bar codes in bagged feeds has made inventory management more efficient. In addition, these tools have improved product traceability during feed transportation from warehouse to the customers.
Product traceability and recalls should also be part of a quality assurance program to investigate and address customer complaints, discrepancies between formulated and analyzed nutrients, and to recall products if safety has been compromised. Finally, the training of new employees should also be part of a quality management program. Employees should be trained to make sure the quality program is being implemented correctly and the quality assurance team should provide feedback if adjustments are needed to address quality concerns. New employees should understand the importance of a quality program in their specific areas and how quality control plays a role in the overall quality assurance program. A quality control program without quality assurance can be expensive for a feed mill; however, if both are developed and implemented appropriately, they will have a positive effect on the quality of the finished products, the image of the company and its bottom line.