New Feed Strategies Discussed by European Pig Producers

This year's European Pig Producers' (EPP) Congress was held in the city of Graz in Austria in June. The focus of the conference was meeting new challenges. Jackie Linden, editor of ThePigSite, summarises the session on new feed strategies.
calendar icon 7 August 2009
clock icon 7 minute read

In his introduction to the Congress, EPP president, Per Bach Laursen highlighted how pig producers in the EU are facing tough challenges developing the industry against cheaper and less regulated competitors.

The programme of the meeting, entitled 'Pig Meets the Future', had been chosen to stimulate the delegates to consider new strategies on health, feed and marketing. This first report from the EPP Congress will focus on the session on new feeding strategies.

By-Products from the Bioethanol Industry – Possibility to Reduce Feed Costs?

Dr Manfred Weber, head of Pig Production at Germany's Department for Agriculture in Iden discussed whether the increased production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) – a by-product of bioethanol production – offers pig producers the opportunity to reduce feed costs.

He warned that this material varies widely in composition, particularly in crude protein content. This means that standard values from tables urgently need to be updated, particularly for DDGS based on wheat, the most widely produced source in the EU.

Reviewing the available data from feeding trials in Germany, Dr Weber said that DDGS is not a suitable feed ingredient for piglets, certainly not before the second nursery phase. For older growing pigs, levels of up to 15 per cent can be included in the diet without adverse effects on performance.

"However, any economic advantages depend first and foremost on the product price," he said.

There is no reliable data on the use of DDGS in sow diets, but Dr Weber thinks that it could be considered during gestation, not least because the fibre level is just 7.5 per cent.

He warned that there are two further potential problems with feeding DDGS to pigs: firstly, any mycotoxins present in the raw material will be concentrated in the DDGS and secondly, the poor protein quality of DDGS requires particular attention in feeds for pigs and amino acid supplementation may be required, which will add to the total feed cost.

Dr Weber concluded that the potential of wheat DDGS to reduce feed costs for pigs is limited, and that the great majority of wheat DDGS is likely to be fed to cattle – as is the case for maize DDGS in the US.

Turning his attention to another feed ingredient, Dr Weber compared the protein quality of rapeseed meal (which is grown extensively in the EU) with that of soybean meal (much of which has to be imported). The chemical composition of rapeseed meal shows little variation from one growing season to another. In a feeding trial with growing-finishing pigs, pigs fed rapeseed meal (10 or 15 per cent in the grower diet and 15 or 20 per cent in the finisher) performed as well as those fed the control diet with soybean meal.

Taking into account the small differences in performance and carcass composition, savings of €2.63 or €5.77 per pig were achieved with the rapeseed meal diets in the trial. However, re-calculating the costs using the current price (€20), Dr Weber showed that it would not now be economic to include rapeseed meal in these diets.

Mycotoxin Risk Management for Pig Producers

Franz Waxenecker, director of Development for Biomin continued on from Dr Weber's comments on the potential of high levels of mycotoxins in distillers by-products by addressing mycotoxin risk management for pig producers. He explained his company's approach which has three pillars: avoid, detect and decontaminate.

According to the FAO, 25 per cent of the world's crops are contaminated with mycotoxins, and it has been estimated that 95 per cent of the mycotoxins are already produced in the field.

Sampling for mycotoxins is especially problematical because they are usually unevenly distributed in the shipment of material. Furthermore, even very low concentrations of mycotoxin can have strongly adverse effects on pig health and performance. Using published data, Mr Waxenecker demonstrated how mycotoxin contamination can adversely affect the growth and immune systme of pigs.

Detection can be achieved by rapid methods such as ELISA, which is only suitable for raw materials. Reference methods – such as HPLC – give more reliable results but they require specialist equipment and are costly.

Biomin regularly publishes the results of its Mycotoxin Survey. The latest survey (2004-2008) revealed levels of contamination in Europe ranging from nine per cent of samples (T-2 toxin in central European samples) to 100 per cent (for fumonisin in northern Europe). Furthermore, 17 per cent of samples contained more than one mycotoxin. Testing of almost 200 samples of DDGS demonstrated this to be a particularly high-risk material for mycotoxin contamination, with more than 90 per cent of the samples containing more than one type of mycotoxin.

Mr Waxenecker explained that no single strategy can counteract all types of mycotoxins. Decontamination can play a role: the addition of a chemical such as bentonite can limit the adverse effects by reducing the bioavailability of the mycotoxin. However, it has recently been discovered that certain enzymes, such as those in particular yeasts, are able to detoxify the mycotoxin, turning it into a non-toxic metabolite – the third of the pillars in Biomin's mycotoxin risk management programme.

Hygienic Wet Feeding

In the introduction to his presentation, Karl-Heiz Denk, sales and marketing director for Schauer Agrotronic, said that achieving high hygiene standards with a wet feeding system is not an impossible mission.

He outlined the advantages of wet feeding as: the option to use cheaper ingredients, 10 per cent less feed wastage, cost savings of €0.18 per kilo gain, more accurate feed distribution and the opportunity to use computer-controlled feed management. This latter point allows control of (and feedback about) feed consumption, as well as ease in making changes.

Mr Denk identified three critical points regarding hygiene in liquid feeding systems. Firstly, many liquid by-products are ideal for the development of unwanted microorganisms. Second, drinking water – and especially open systems – also pose a danger of pathogenic germs. And finally, pipes are prone to the build-up of biofilm on their inner surfaces, which can contaminate the feed with countless microorganisms at each feeding.

Of the many types of contaminants in a wet feeding system, Mr Denk said it is the yeasts, fungi and bacteria that cause the greatest problems, including undesirable fermentation of the feed, reduced feed intake, aggressive behaviour, poor feed efficiency and in the worst cases, even sudden deaths.

Using his company's products for illustration, Mr Denk went on to show the features of mixing tank design that contribute to good hygiene, such as flat internal surfaces, without protruding pipes and with specially designed mixing paddles. Mechanical pre-purification is achieved with rotating nozzles and tank cleaning is integrated into the design, including high-pressure water nozzles with the option of hot water. Further sanitation can be achieved using ultraviolet light and/or by the addition of acids.

Showing results comparing different chemicals for disinfecting drinking water, Mr Denk said that ozone has been shown to be the most effective for surfaces.

Schauer started as long as 15 years ago on the design of feeding systems for maximum hygiene, said Mr Denk. The Turboclean System offers computer-controlled, automatic cleaning and disinfection for the whole pipe system, including the downpipes. The company's Spotmix feeding system incorporates Turboclean, and it eliminates hygiene problems in the mixing tank by mixing and distributing the feed (in small amounts and in dry form) through one-way stainless steel pipes by air-generator.

Mr Denk concluded that there has been much interest recently in liquid feeding and it offers many advantages to the pig producer but only the highest level of hygiene will deliver the full benefits, he said.

August 2009

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