Quality ingredients matter

Posted on May 27, 2015 in Swine Performance
By Dr. Leah Gesing

As a pork producer purchasing feed ingredients, you are faced with choices about where to source those ingredients and how much to pay for them.

Obviously, it is tempting to pick the cheapest source of an ingredient.  Buying ingredients cheaply means that diets will cost less and you’ll profit more… right?

This is not always the case as you may find huge disparities in ingredient quality among different sources.  Using lower quality ingredients may translate to lost performance and profits.

So how do you know if a lower-priced product is equal in quality to a more expensive product?

Let’s use tryptophan as an example to explain quality differences in ingredients.  Synthetic tryptophan may differ in appearance and handling characteristics depending on the source.  Typically, the lowest-priced tryptophan is very powdery and dusty, while more expensive tryptophan typically has a larger average particle size, greater bulk density, and is less dusty.  Although it is tempting to assume that both products deliver the same nutrient value to the pigs, the cheaper tryptophan may have negative aspects that need to be considered.

First, because of its very powdery consistency, it may be harder for a mill to handle when using it in the manufacturing of complete feeds.  Adding an ingredient by hand when making complete feed increases time spent making that diet, translating to a higher cost of manufacturing that feed.

Additionally, due to differences in particle size and bulk density between tryptophan and other ingredients like corn, soybean meal, and DDGS, some of the low-cost, dusty tryptophan may be lost in the manufacturing process (by sticking to the side of the mixer or auger, for example).  As a result, each pig may not get the required amount of tryptophan, which could result in a deficient tryptophan-to-lysine ratio and, thereby, limit lean growth, rate of gain, or feed conversion of pigs consuming the diet.

Finally, it’s important to ask for, read and understand the nutrient analyses of ingredients.  Just because the name of two products is the same, it doesn’t mean that, pound for pound, the same amounts of nutrients are being delivered to the pig.  For these reasons, it is possible that the savings gained by purchasing the cheap version of an ingredient may be lost entirely due to poorer pig performance.

When developing new products and sourcing ingredients, Vita Plus places an emphasis on ingredient handling characteristics.  We evaluate the flowability, particle size, bulk density, and amount of dust produced by ingredients. We use the highest quality ingredients when manufacturing products and sourcing ingredients for resale to producers.

In the feed industry, the saying is often true that “you get what you pay for.”  At Vita Plus, we feel it is our responsibility to provide you with the highest quality ingredients and to help you determine which ingredients will lead to optimal pig performance and maximum profits.

About the author:  Dr. Leah Gesing is a Vita Plus swine technical sales and support specialist.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Iowa State University.  She continued there to earn her master’s degree in animal physiology, studying on-farm factors affecting market hog transport losses.  She then went on to the University of Illinois to earn her Ph.D. in animal sciences.  While in school, Gesing was involved with numerous research projects, teaching experiences, internships, and international travel.  Specifically, she conducted applied research in swine genetics, health, management and reproduction with Dr. Mike Ellis.  Her Ph.D. project evaluated the effect of timing of OvuGel® administration on reproductive performance in gilts synchronized for estrus.

Category: Feed ingredients
Feed quality and nutrition
Swine Performance