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Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

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Author(s): Beltranena, Eduardo and Ruurd Zijlstra
Publication Date: January 1, 2007
Country: Canada


2007 was one of the most difficult years for swine producers in western Canada. Grain prices were record high and feed remains the single, most important cost of hog production. This paper briefly summarizes some recent research findings and reviews some feeding strategies to optimize the inclusion and utilization of biofuel co-products in Prairie hog diets. The primary feed issue with DDGS is what “truly” its dietary energy value is. The grain stock used to ferment has the greatest impact on the dietary energy value of DDGS. If a hog diet has a higher crude protein because that’s what has been least-cost formulated on using a DDGS mix, the nutritionist may not have a proper estimate of dietary energy. The only manner in which a nutritionist can predict animal growth when juggling such wide variation in ingredient nutrient provision is by utilizing the net energy system. Major contributors to DDGS variability are the amount of concentrated solubles added back and the drying process. Adding back the solubles creates lumps when a viscous liquid comes in contact with the drying, mash distillers’ grain. A way to dissolve the lumpiness of DDGS and prevent caking in storage bins thereafter is overdrying. The intensity of heat, the duration of heating, the speed of heating, and the equipment used for drying can cause amino acid (building blocks of protein) damage (i.e. reduced bioavailability); however, overheating at drying will increase the phosphorus availability (Batal 2006). Thus, the larger the inclusion level of DDGS in the diet, the lower the consequential need to supply phosphorus from inorganic sources (e.g., mono/dicalcium phosphate), resulting in feed cost savings. Assuming no detrimental effect on feed intake, the next concern with high inclusions of DDGS is the effect on carcass and pork quality. Feeding DDGS resulted in a marginal decrease in carcass dressing percent (Thacker 2006). Regarding pork quality, high corn DDGS inclusions are a greater concern than high wheat DDGS inclusions would be because corn DDGS contains nearly twice the fat content. Feeding unsaturated fats to hogs is known to cause soft or “fluffy” bellies. Bacon slabs don’t slide well and bacon strips tend to stick together at cooking. The taste and texture of lean pork become oily and mushy at chewing. Sausage quality is compromised, increasing the oily sweat off and reducing wiener firmness. Feeding decreasing levels of DDGS as hogs approach market weight is a strategy that should reduce feed cost and mitigate the negative effects on pork quality. Almost no research results are available yet for feeding canola press cake. It is an even more novel biofuel co-product in comparison to DDGS. The main issue with this co-product will be the variability in residual oil content after pressing. If cost were low, as per the DDGS trend, the two main issues restricting canola press cake inclusion rates in hog diets would be palatability (feed intake) and the effect on carcass and pork quality. We view the feeding of biofuel co-products as the way of the future as we enhance the food, feed and bio-industrial multi-use of raw agricultural commodities. The issues surrounding the nutrient variability of DDGS are a barrier to reliably predicting animal performance. Knowing the main grain stock, some processing details, adopting rapid scanning (NIRS) technology and formulating hog diets using the net energy system, should go a long way to containing feed cost for hog producers. But as the availability increases and co-product cost decreases, pork quality -if not voluntary feed intake first-, may be what will ultimately determine the highest levels of dietary inclusion of biofuel co-products.

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