At a meeting of the Minnesota Pork Board research committee yesterday, Dr John Goihl, a consulting swine nutritionist in Minnesota, put the problem of high feed grain prices and limited supplies in perspective. He said there are really two different scenarios that producers face in managing their nutrition programs for their swine production units in the coming year.
Scenario number one is that producers assume supplies of ingredients (not necessarily corn or soybean meal) will be adequate and the challenge is identifying and purchasing alternative ingredients. The underlying nutrient specifications and expectations of pig performance won’t change much as the diets are formulated. While feed per gain may change, diets will still be formulated for optimal daily gain and carcass merit. Pig flow thru facilities isn’t expected to change. The challenge is the timing of alternative ingredient purchases, the risks associated with variations in the nutrient profiles of many alternative ingredients and the associated storage and handling issues that a variety of alternative ingredients pose to the feed milling and mixing process.
The other scenario is when diets are formulated with the goal of extending a supply of limited ingredients. In this case, the underlying assumptions of pig performance and the associated basis for formulating the diets changes. World supplies of soybeans and soybean meal are projected to be very tight next summer. If we are faced with very tight soybean meal supplies next summer, many producers and their nutrition suppliers may be forced to formulated diets with the goal of stretching soybean meal supplies until new crop beans begin appearing around September 1, 2013.
What will your diets look like if you have to stretch 10 months of soybean meal into 12 months of diets? How much performance are you willing to give up (daily gain, feed conversion or even carcass merit) if faced with this prospect? Will there be any readily available alternatives in your region that you can add to the diets to extend your limited supply of soybean meal?