Minimizing Phosphorus in Feed While Maintaining Productivity Challenges Pork Producers

CANADA - The vice-president research and innovation with the Canadian International Grains Institute says reducing the levels of phosphorus in swine manure while maintaining the productivity of the pig, is one of the key challenges facing today's pork producers, Bruce Cochrane writes.
calendar icon 22 February 2013
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Legislation due to take effect in Manitoba this fall will restrict the amount of phosphorous that can be applied to the soil from livestock production.

The Canadian International Grains Institute is working with the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative to develop a survey to determine what technologies feed companies are using and how they are formulating diets to manage phosphorus.

Dr Rex Newkirk, the vice-president of research and innovation with CIGI, acknowledges phosphorus is critical to the health of pigs but much of the phosphorus in the feed ends up in the manure.

Dr Rex Newkirk-Canadian International Grains Institute

The challenge is that a lot of the phosphorus found in plants is not digested by the animals in a form called phytate and so what happens is the animals lack the enzyme to digest that material and so we end up having to put a lot of inorganic forms or chemical forms of phosphorus in the diet so they meet the requirements.

For many many years what we did is we would just add this inorganic phosphorus to the diet and that which the animals couldn't digest just passed on through.

But over the last couple of decades a great deal of work has been done with an enzyme called phytase, an enzyme we can add to the diet and make this phosphorus more available to the animal.
This is one of the tools we can use.

We can one change our formulation practices so we add the enzyme.

We can utilize the phosphorus that's in the plant and we can also look at minimizing the amount of phosphorus in the diet so that we're not over feeding phosphorus because there's always a need to put some sort of safety margin in to make sure we're never running the animal short.

We just want to make sure that we're not having too large a safety margins.

Dr Newkirk stresses it's just unfortunate the plant phosphorus is not very well digested without this enzyme and without certain practices.

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