Controlling Feed Cost by Including Alternative Ingredients into Pig Diets: A Review

Alternative feed ingredients may reduce the cost per unit of pork produced, according to a review from Canada, provided that energy, lysine and anti-nutritive factors are taken into account.
calendar icon 2 April 2014
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Sustained price increases for traditional cereal grain and protein meal feed commodities have forced the pork industry to consider the dietary inclusion of alternative feedstuffs, according to T.A. Woyengo of the University of Alberta in Canada and co-authors there and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development at a Non-Ruminant Nutrition Symposium and published in Journal of Animal Science.

Crop seed may serve as feedstuffs but their demand as feedstock for human food, biofuel and bioindustrial products has increased. Together with these products, co-products such as distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), wheat mill-run and canola meal are produced.

As omnivores, pigs are ideally suited to convert these non-human-edible co-products into high-quality food animal protein. Therefore, co-products and other low-cost alternative feedstuffs such as pulses and oilseeds can be included in pig diets to reduce feed cost per metric ton of feed.

However, inclusion of alternative feedstuffs in pig diets does not necessarily reduce feed cost per kilogram of gain. Therefore, the use of novel and existing feedstuffs in pig diets must be optimised following their characterisation for energy and amino acid profile. Alternative feedstuffs generally have a high content of at least one of the following anti-nutritional factors (ANF): fibre, tannins, glucosinolates and heat-labile trypsin inhibitors.

Several methods can optimise nutrient use of pigs fed alternative feedstuffs by reducing effects of their ANF. These methods include

  • particle size reduction to increase nutrient digestibility
  • dehulling or scarification to reduce tannin and fibre content of pulses and oilseeds
  • air classification to create fractions that have a greater content of nutrients and lower content of ANF than the feedstock
  • heat treatments such as extrusion, toasting, roasting and micronisation to reduce heat-labile ANF
  • dietary supplementation with fibre-degrading enzymes or pre-digestion of fibrous feedstuffs or diets with fibre-degrading enzymes to increase dietary nutrient availability, and
  • formulation of diets based on bioavailable amino acid coefficients.

Woyengo and co-authors concluded that the feeding of alternative ingredients may reduce feed cost per unit of pork produced, provided that their price per unit of Net Energy or digestible lysine is less than that of the traditional feedstuffs and that negative effects of their ANF are controlled.


Woyengo T.A., E. Beltranena and R.T. Zijlstra. 2014. Non-ruminant nutrition symposium: Controlling feed cost by including alternative ingredients into pig diets: A review. J. Anim. Sci. 92(4):1293-1305. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-7169

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April 2014

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