Prairie Swine Centre

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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.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Author(s): Ruurd T. Zijlstra, Andrew G. van Kessel, Murray D. Drew
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Country: Canada


Seeds of plants crops each contain some of the three main energy categories: carbohydrates [divided into sugars, starch and non-starch polysaccharides (NSP)], protein, and oil (fat). Some of these crops have been fractionated commercially for centuries, usually to acquire the oil. Canola and flax oil are present examples of processing crops for oil in western Canada, while soybean and corn oil are prime example in the USA. Ingredient tables list a large array of ingredient fractions that can be used in the feed industry [for example, Novus 1994; National Research Council (NRC) 1998], although only a few fractions are currently available in western Canada as a commodity to produce animal feeds. Commodity fractions of ingredients produced in western Canada include canola meal, wheat by-products, oat groats, sugar beet pulp, and distiller’s grains.
For each of the crops that yielded more than 500,000 MT in Saskatchewan in 2003 (Table 1; SAFRR 2004), the current state of knowledge regarding value-added processing was described and related to animal agriculture. These crops are: canola, flax, oats, barley, wheat, lentils, and field peas. Canola and flax are oil seeds containing large amounts of fat and small amounts of starch; oats, barley, and wheat are cereals containing large amounts of carbohydrates, mostly starch, and small amounts of protein; lentils and field peas are pulses containing protein and starch (CVB 1994).

Feed ingredients are included into swine diets following least-cost diet formulation. Therefore, ingredients or ingredient fractions with the lowest cost per digestible nutrient will be included in a diet to meet a specified digestible nutrient requirement, unless a minimum inclusion rate is set for a specific ingredient. Reasons to include minimum inclusion rates for ingredients or fractions might be beneficial effects for animal health, pork quality, welfare, or the environment.
Most examples of high-value ingredient fractions in swine production include fractions that can be incorporated in diets for weaned pigs ensuring a rapid increase in voluntary feed intake of digestible nutrients, thereby stimulating a successful transition from sow milk to a dry diet. Prime examples of established high-value, plant-based ingredient fractions that are used in the feed industry include canola oil, oat groats, and soy protein isolates and concentrates. Other examples may include fractionated canola meal, peas, and flax in the near future. However, examples ensuring that the extra diet costs are captured in the marketplace in the fetched price for the final product, for example pork, are overall currently scarce.
Most of the ingredient fractions that are therefore used in the feed industry come from a second approach of building value-added processing into animal nutrition. An ingredient is fractionated, and a minimum of one fraction is used for human or industrial application, while the remaining by-(or co-)product goes into the feed market. Information on ingredient fractionation combined with feeding all resulting individual fractions to a single animal species is scarce. This review therefore is focussed on describing the potential for value-added ingredient processing for animal nutrition for the most important seeds crops in Saskatchewan.
Value-Added Processing
A range of processing techniques can be employed to fractionate ingredients. Overall, two categories exist: (1) an up-front fractionation process allowing further processing of individual ingredient fractions, and (2) a process on the entire ingredient that separates one fraction from the ingredient. Examples of category 1 include dry and wet milling and air classification, etc. Examples of category 2 include current ethanol production procedures and oil extraction from canola. Dry separation techniques (dry milling/air classification) are particularly useful for the production of protein-rich fractions from non-oilseed legumes, such as peas (Dijkstra et al. 2003). The advantages of dry over wet separation techniques are lower costs and the absence of effluents; however, wet-processing techniques may result in higher fractions containing a higher protein concentration. Category 1 and 2 processes can be combined for one ingredient. For example, oil is first extracted from soybeans, resulting in soy oil and soybean meal. Subsequently, soybean is fractionated into several protein fractions including protein concentrates and isolates, but also more purified fractions, including isoflavones (Potter 1998).
Within the history of commercial agriculture of Western Canada, canola is one of its premier success stories. The creation of canola from rapeseed through crop breeding by Downey and Stefansson (Rakow 2000) resulted, after fractionation, in oil and meal fractions that both could be fed to domestic animal species. At the canola crusher, canola seed is processed into canola oil and canola meal using solvent extraction. The oil is further purified into edible canola oil, or remains feed grade. Following purification, the canola oil is used as a human food, although the oil fraction might also be converted into bio-diesel (Zou and Atkinson 2003) or bio-plastics (Narine 2003).
Limitations for optimum use of the canola meal remain (Bell 1993). The NSP, phytate, and other compounds may limit nutrient digestibility of canola meal by non-ruminants. The hull of canola seed is high in poorly digestible NSP, and partial mechanical tail-end dehulling will reduce NSP content and increase protein content of canola meal (De Lange et al. 1998). As a result, energy digestibility and DE content of dehulled canola meal will be increased for swine; however, a fraction with a reduced nutritional value will remain.
The fractionation of canola into oil and meal for animal feed allow the sum of parts to become larger than the whole. Canola seeds contain 40% oil. The remaining 60% following crushing and oil extraction is sold as canola meal. Although canola meal fetches a premium price in the dairy feed market, canola meal is sold at a discount in other feed markets. The long-term average price the seed is $347/MT, for the oil is $645/MT and for the meal is $172/MT, the sum of the latter two on an equivalent weight basis to seed is $362/MT, or $15/MT higher than the price for the seed (Figure 1). Additional margin is obtained by further purification of the oil for human consumption. Currently, canola is grown primarily for its oil, which is used extensively in the food industry.
The market for canola contrasts the market for soybeans, a main competitor. Soybeans contain less oil than canola (20 instead of 40%), and soybeans have traditionally had more focus on the meal portion of the bean than canola. Soybean meal is used as a feedstock for production of a large array of food and non-food products, providing further diversification of the market for the meal fraction. Fractionation products include isoflavones, glycinin, b-conglycinin, and new protein-based products for special nutrition such as hypoallergenic infant formulas, fortified beverages and nutraceutics. Diversification of the soybean meal market may provide in stable crusher margins and profitability.
Further diversification for canola can be achieved as well by, for example, fractionating the meal to a variety of feed or food products. Proprietary technology to achieve this feat has been developed by MCN Bioproducts Inc. (MCN 2004). A main product stream will be a high protein fraction that can be used as a (partial) replacement of fish diet in the high value diets for the commercial fish industry. In a similar process, physical, enzymatic and chemical processing of commercial canola meal results in a fraction that canola protein isolate that is low in NSP and phytate and therefore has a high nutrient digestibility for fish (Mwachireya et al. 1999). Development of markets for specific high-value fractions such as fish in addition to markets for the fractions will be key for maintaining a continuous positive return on investment.
More recently, fractionation of flax is getting increasing attention. The use of flax oil for its health benefits was started centuries ago. The omega-3 fatty acid contained in flax seed and thus fractionated flax oil can be included in the diet, and thereby be concentrated either in meat products such as pork (Romans et al. 1995) or in eggs (Ahn et al. 1995). Swine research on flax has primarily focused on changing fatty acid profile of pork by using dietary flax seed. The health benefits of omeage-3 fatty acid have been described in numerous reviews (for example, Covington 2004).
Apart from its benefits via changes in fatty acid profile, flax seed may have other desirable digestible nutrient and functional characteristics for swine. However, the total effect of flax seed or individual flax fractions on intestinal microbial populations has not been well described (Bhatty 1993). Flax seed contains 20% hull, 40% oil and 28% dietary fibre (Flax Council 2002), and both fibre and fat fractions may change the intestinal microbial populations directly due to the anti-microbial properties of flax fractions or by serving as a substrate for intestinal bacteria, or indirectly through modulations of intestinal inflammatory responses.
Flax fractions including alpha-linolenic acid (Abbabouch et al. 1992; Kankaapaa et al. 2001; Lee et al. 2002), lignans (Pauletti et al. 2000) and cyanogenic glycosides (Osborne A.E. 1996) have broad anti-microbial activity against bacteria and fungi present in the small intestine. These products are not present in significant concentrations in other feed ingredients used in swine diets suggesting that flax may exhibit antibiotic like activities. Flax also contains 10% mucilage, which is a water-soluble carbohydrate that can be removed by hot-water extraction (Bhatty 1993). Mucilage will increase the viscosity of digesta in the small intestine causing a reduction in nutrient digestibility (Garden-Robinson 1994).
Results from our laboratory indicate that flax fractions, in particular flax oil and hulls are indeed capable to change intestinal microbial populations (Smith et al. 2004). The use of flax seed or its fractions as an antibiotic replacement might thus appeal to all swine producers.
Oats contain a large amount of NSP that are non-digestible by non-ruminants. Most of these NSP are included in the oat hull, and mechanically dehulling of the oats therefore results in highly digestible groats and less-digestible hulls (Patience et al. 1995). Oats groats are used widely in starter diets, because oat groats are palatable, contain little fibre, and are highly digestible (Lin et al., 1987). Because of the removal of the fibrous husk, oat groats contain 7% oil (Asp et al. 1992). Naked oats are a natural variant of oats resulting in most of the hull being removed easily (Morris 1990), resulting in most of the hull and thus the indigestible fibre fraction being removed. However, naked oats have not gained widespread adoption to compete against oat groats, in part due to issue related to storage related to rancidity of the oil.
Despite its high reputation as an ingredient for starter diets, few peer-reviewed article exists showing a benefit of oat groats inclusion. In diets containing 45% dried skim milk, oat groats and corn as basal grain sources resulted in similar growth performance of starter pigs for 2 wk following 21-d weaning (Mahan and Newton 1993). Similarly, replacement of wheat with 25% (domestic) oat groats resulted in similar performance in 4-wk-old starter pigs for 5 wk (Thacker and Sosulski 1994). Finally, regular and high-oil oat groats improved growth performance in 3-wk-old starter pigs for 4 wk compared to wheat-based but not corn-based diets (Zijlstra et al. 2002a). These results seem to indicate that beneficial effects of oat groats may be limited to the immediate post-weaning phase.
Oat hulls contain a fibre fraction that is resistant to digestion and fermentation (Zervas and Zijlstra 2002). Oat hulls are used occasionally in sow diets as a fibre source to prevent constipation. Oat hulls are not considered as a regular feed ingredient for grower-finisher pigs. In contrast, the b-glucans contained in oat groats have a high digestibility (Bach Knudsen et al. 1993). The b-glucans extracted from the groats (endosperm/bran) may impact intestinal bacteria populations, or act as immuno-stimulator (Yun et al. 2003), indicating that the NSP contained in oats may have functional characteristics benefiting animal health.
The main value-added processing for barley has been malting and brewing, resulting in the production of beer and brewer’s grain. Similar to oats, most of the barley NSP are contained in the barley hull; however, the hull content is less in barley and the NSP contained in the barley hull appear more digestible than oat hull NSP. Still, barley NSP are negatively related to energy digestibility in pigs (Fairbairn et al. 1999). Hull-less barley is a natural variant of barley resulting in most of the hull being removed easily during harvest (Aherne 1990), resulting in most of the hull and thus the less fibre fraction being removed. However, hull-less barley acreage has declined recently, despite possessing excellent functional and nutritional characteristics compared to covered barley that are similar to wheat. Yield of hull-less barley has been consistently lower than for covered barley, partly due to the removal of the hull, and the lack of a substantial price difference between wheat and barley to overcome the yield reduction. Finally, the hull remains of the field and value of the hull fibre can thus not be captured.
Similar to oats, barley could be pearled using processing to produce a highly digestibly barley kernel by removing the less digestible hull. Dehulling of barley by the techniques used for oat dehulling is difficult (Hoseney 1994). Pearling of barley drastically increases in sacco rumen digestibility of barley starch (Pauly et al. 1992), because barley NSP reduce starch digestibility. Commercially, pearling of barley is solely performed for human food application to access the functional characteristics of the barley kernel (Edney et al. 2002). Recently, fractions of the barley hull, i.e., pearling by-products, gained interest for human food applications. Some pearling flour fractions (from later stages of pearling) contain high amount of b-glucans that can be enriched using milling and sieving, and included in functional pastas (Marconi 2000). Finally, b-glucans have been extracted from barley using patented technology (Temelli and Vasanthan 2003), to enable food application for the b-glucan concentrates. Similar to oat b-glucans, barley b-glucans might provide health benefits for animals as well (Wang et al. 1992).
The starch content in wheat is highest among the main commodities in Saskatchewan. Thus, wheat has been the main feedstock for ethanol production in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba. For conventional ethanol production, the wheat feedstock is ground and undergoes the fermentation process. The ethanol is extraction and the remaining by-product, i.e., distiller’s grain is either fed directly to cattle or dried together with the thin solubles to create distiller’s dried grain plus thin solubles (DDGS). Wheat thin stillage as a liquid and thin stillage and wet wheat distillers’ grains are good sources of nutrients for ruminants (Mustafa et al. 2000). For swine, wheat distiller’s dried grains plus solubles is an alternative ingredient with a similar digestible profile of critical nutrients as wheat (Widyaratne et al. 2004).
Wheat by-products from dry milling for flour production are gaining increasing attention in the swine industry. These by-products are generally available at a reduced cost; however, much research will have to be completed to characterize and improve the nutritional value of the by-products.
Increased wheat NSP is related to reduced energy digestibility (Zijlstra et al. 1999). Although wheat contains less hull than oats and barley, removal of the hull and therefore the NSP contained in the hull using dehulling will increase the energy digestibility and therefore DE content of the wheat (Zijlstra et al. 2002b). However, attractive (human) markets for high quality wheat bran will be needed to offset the cost of ingredient fractionation.
Wheat gluten is being fractionated for specific cooking purposes for human markets. However, the proteins included in the gluten have gained attention due to being a contributing factor to celiac disease in humans (Mowat 2003). Celiac disease causes damage to the epithelium of the small intestine, leading to mal-absorption of nutrients. The information regarding the protein fraction of wheat suggests that ingredient fraction that may have benefits for most individual might have a detrimental effect for some.
Traditionally, lentils have not been fractionated in western Canada, perhaps because lentils possess similar chemical and functional characteristics as peas. Most of the lentil crop is directly used into the human market for direct human consumption (Castell 1990), with only off-grade lentils, including split lentils entering the feed markets occasionally in Saskatchewan. Lentils have been fractionated initially for research trials, similar to peas (Bhatty and Christison 1984); however, peas appear to have become the sole successful fractionated pulse crop in commercial practice in western Canada (Slinkard et al. 1990).
Recently, little is known about the nutritional and functional characteristics of the individual fractions of lentils (Cuadrado et al. 2002). Thus, lentils were fractionated using dehulling, extraction using ethanol and buffers, and isolation using chromatography. Obtained fractions included the lectin and lectin-depleted proteins (globulin and albumins), starch, insoluble NSO, lignin, and hulls, which were compared in rats to whole lectin meal. Lentil globulins and hulls possessed characteristics that reduced rat growth performance similar to the reduction caused by whole lectin meal, while pure lentil lectin, starch and albumin did not reduce performance (Cuadrado et al. 2002), indicating removal of lectin globulin and hulls will improve nutritional characteristics of lentils (for rats).
Field Peas
The field pea is an interesting crop for ingredient fractionation. Among the pulse crops, fractionation of field peas has a stronger tradition than lentils, however, not as strong as a tradition as a main competing legume and cereal: soybeans and corn. Locally, field peas have been fractionated commercially at Parrheim Foods into protein, starch, and NSP fractions (Parrheim 2004), all of which are commercially valuable for food processing.
In pigs, pea starch is slightly less digestible by the end of the small intestine, but similar in digestibility at the end of the total tract than wheat; however, the rate of pea starch digestion is lower than wheat (Fledderus et al. 2003). Pea starch thus has a lower glycemic index than wheat or barley. Pulses in general have a lower rate of starch digestion than cereal grains. Among food processors, cornstarch remains popular, because a guaranteed supply exists from the USA. However, legume starches are different from cereal and potato starches, and possess some improved functional properties. For example, pea starches are better soluble and swell less than cereal starches (Wang et al. 1998). The most important starch characteristics for animal nutrition are total and rate of digestion.
Pea protein is well digested by pigs; however amino acid digestibility appears less than for soybean meal (Mariscal-Landin et al. 2002). The predominant protein fraction in peas is the globulins, and albumins are the secondary fraction. Peas also contain anti-nutritional factors that may interfere with protein digestion, including trypsin inhibitors, lectins, tannins, a-galactosides and alkaloids.
Pea NSP are concentrated in the pea hulls. For more than a decade, peas have been identified to be a rich source of fermentable NSP that produce a large intestine fermentation pattern of potential health benefit (Goodlad and Mathers 1990). Compared to wheat and oat bran NSP, pea NSP has less bulking capacity and does not reduce passage rate as much (Hansen et al. 1992). Pea hulls have a high cellulose content. Apart from the pea hull NSP, the NSP contained in the cotyledons appear to increase endogenous N losses without affecting protein digestion (Leterme et al. 1998). These inner pea NSP have a high water-holding capacity. Generally, high solubility, swelling and water-holding capacity of NSP are related to high fermentation and development of microbial populations. Indeed, pea cotyledon has a higher water-holding capacity than the pea hull (Canibe and Bach-Knudsen 2002) and results in a higher production of volatile fatty acids.
Similar to canola meal, peas can be dehulled and the protein concentrated to create plant-based proteins to replace fishmeal in commercial aquaculture. Dehulling peas will improve energy and protein digestibility of peas in diets for silver perch, and protein concentrates had the protein digestibility (97%), suggesting that pea fraction may be excellent protein sources for some fish species (Booth et al. 2001).
Functional Characteristics of Fractions
Each of the main fractions possesses functional characteristics that differ among the seven ingredients. These functional characteristics are extremely important for food production but may also play a role in animal nutrition. Some examples are given.
Starch. Even though ileal starch digestibility may be similar and total-tract starch digestibility may be identical among the seven discussed ingredients, rate of starch digestion will be different (Fledderus et al. 2003). The rate of starch digestion influences the glycemic index of the feed, and this index may impact protein deposition. The ratio of amylase to amylosepectin may be an important determinant of starch nutritional characteristics. Ir. Jan Fledderus will discuss starch in detail at the 2004 conference.
NSP. The NSP can be characterized into soluble and insoluble fractions. Each fraction contains some unique properties, but the soluble fraction is expected to interact more with rate of digestion and absorption, passage rate, and microbial populations (De Lange 2000). Previous work in our laboratory has shown that the carbohydrate and protein fractions of feed ingredients may exert significant influence on bacterial populations in the small intestine of pigs (Drew et al. 2002).
Protein. The protein and gluten fraction is obviously critical to supply digestible amino acids; however, protein also contains antigenic properties that may be important factors for food allergies and hypersensitivity reactions in the intestinal tract. Dietary protein may also affect intestinal health by modulation of the intestinal mucus layer (Montagne et al. 2004).
Fat. Fat provides the highest amount of gross, digestible, and net energy per gram of mass. Ingestion of fatty acids will lead to their distribution to virtually every cell in the body with effects on membrane composition and function, eicosanoid synthesis, cellular signalling and regulation of gene expression (Benatti et al. 2004), and thereby among other affecting the immune system.
Implications: Sum of Parts
Few experiments have been conducted to determine to sum of parts versus the whole within a single domestic animal species, from a nutritional perspective. This approach might imply that a key nutritional concept used in diet formulation, addition of parts equals the whole, would not apply for fractions of an ingredient. As opposed to marketing fractions within a species, fractions that were created from an ingredient usually instead had either a single main fraction with a target market in food or industry processes for humans or had more than one fraction with this human objective. This approach is logical, because, whereas the feed industry is focussed on small margins and large volumes, food production generally deals with larger margins per unit of product. Some high value feeds for, for example, feeding of fish, and animals with high nutritional demands during key stages of development, may also fit this approach. This approach allows fractionation of an ingredient and subsequently ensuring that the functional characteristics of each fraction match the needs of target processes or species. Still, animal agriculture remains an ideal approach to convert by-products from ingredient fractionation into high value animal products. The economic implications of value-added processing are extremely important for Western Canada, and traditional animal agriculture will play a key role turning ingredient fractionation into a successful story.
Current value-added processing procedures were described for the main seven Saskatchewan seed crops qua tonnage. Canola, flax, oats, barley, wheat, lentils, and peas possess together a range in starch, NSP, protein, and fat content. Canola and flax have a main oil fraction, but especially flax also possesses unique NSP fractions. Oats, barley, and wheat have a main starch fraction. Lentils and especially peas contain fractions of starch, protein, and NSP with unique functional properties. Although ingredients can be fractionated successfully for animal nutrition, especially for high margin market such as fish, most ingredients are fractionated for the human food supply or industrial processes. Using the latter approach, the sum of the parts can be worth more than the whole.
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