BPEX blog

Monday, 25 October 2010

Protein to suit pigs AND the environment

Amino acid supplementation could reduce the use of soya bean meal in pig diets and help make pork production more economically and environmentally sustainable.

BPEX Head of Knowledge Transfer, Research and Development Dr Mike Varley comments on discussions between international nutritionists at a recent seminar:

It seems that more or less the complete array of supplementary amino acids is now available to deploy in pig feeding – including lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan – and now valine and isoleucine. This means that, if we choose to do so, we could feed all classes of pig on a starch source (cereals), a premix and pure crystalline amino acids suitably balanced.
It is also evident that for every drop of 1% in crude protein in grower / finisher feeds, we can reduce N excretion by 10% with no loss in performance.

It means that it may be economic (and strategically desirable) to reduce soya bean meal inclusions and put in the right blend of amino nitrogen and, at the same time, maintain performance levels and reduce our environmental impact. The environmental desirability of reducing protein inclusions in general pig feeds is self evident.

What we also discussed was the welfare implications of lower protein feeds where the growing animal or the breeding female is on a low-protein / balanced amino acid feed formulation. We could argue that we have improved the welfare of these animals, with less metabolic pressure and less demand on the excretion systems. Most of the nutritionists present accepted this argument. If we are ultimately looking for all the cards to play in differentiating British pork and pork products, then our nutritional programmes could also play their part in this way.

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