Lots of discussion by analysts and producers on the sharp increase in slaughter numbers the past few weeks. Producers are telling me they are scheduling loads 2-3 weeks out right now.
I think the biggest driver is the anticipated feed grain shortage next summer. Producers are working hard to reduce sale weights (and indirectly extend limited feed ingredient supplies). The consequence at this time of year is huge slaughter runs 2 months earlier than our normal October-November pace.
Producers are very concerned about feed grain supplies for next summer. While tight corn supplies are what people are talking about, the real sleeper is soybean meal. If the ProFarmer tour numbers are correct, beans and bean meal will be really tight next summer. There are not a lot of really good options for the monogastric animal, especially the broiler and turkey industries.
At one time, much of the ‘protein’ supply for livestock feeds came from meat and bone meal. Every major slaughter company had a feed division that was developed to market the co-products of the slaughter process. A major extension effort in the 1970’s and 80’s revolved around the idea that pigs didn’t have a requirement for animal based protein.
Today, animal based protein sources are usually reserved for the plasma protein, milk products and fish meal added to weaned pig starter diets. Because of the concerns associated with ‘mad-cow’ disease, the FDA tightened its regulation of meat and bone meal. Many US feed mills no longer inventory meat and bone meal, either bovine or porcine because of these regulations
As soybean meal supplies tighten next year I think a lot of nutritionists and mills will be rethinking their use of porcine meat and bone meal. I think all of us involved in the industry will become very creative over the next 12 months as we struggle with high priced and supply limited feed ingredients.