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Dr. Nabil Said and Dr. Dave Albin have written many blogs on the benefits of ExPress® soybean meal in regards to feeding efficiencies and digestibility advantages versus standard soybean meal (here and here). There are significant advantages which will calculate in better profitability for the grower. Examples are poultry growing faster while eating less, dairy cows producing more milk, laying hens producing larger eggs, etc. As you can imagine, these are major positive impacts in any meat, milk or egg operation when using ExPress® soy instead of the commodity soybean meal protein source.
But in many places around the world there is another major advantage to using ExPress® versus commodity soy in animal’s diets and that is the basic cost of soybean meal. If your location is far from a commodity soybean meal producer in a solvent plant, you may be faced with an extremely high cost ingredient. Duncan Nesbitt wrote about basis (here) where he said, “The basis is the amount above or below the CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade) futures price that a commodity is trading for at a given location. Another way to more simply think about this is how far do your local beans have to ship to a solvent plant and then be shipped back in the form of soybean meal?
Recently we have seen a number of Canadian producers see the benefit of this in deciding to process their own soy through the ExPress® system. Basis in Central Canada is $67, meaning a $67 premium over CBOT pricing. So for example if solvent soybean meal CBOT price is $400, the cost of the soybean meal in Central Canada is $467. Western Canada is even more costly at $87 basis. At the same time we have more and more soybean varieties capable of growing in or near Canada that can be accessed to process in an ExPress® plant. Now these producers not only can save money, but have a better ingredient for their animal’s growth and production.
Another scenario where the math works is producing ExPress® in an area where the producer does not have local beans to buy, but must get the soybeans shipped to them from long distances. We have set up major producers in Egypt and in Russia that are perfect examples of this. In this scenario the math works well again because of the value of the ExPress® soybean meal with 6-8% oil content and the value of the ExPress® crude oil produced in the process. For Southern Russia here is how the numbers look:
Commodity Soybean Meal (solvent) Price = $725 per ton
Raw Soybeans Price = $660 per ton
ExPress Soybean Meal Price = $800 per ton
ExPress Crude Oil Price = $950 per ton
As you can see in this example, the producer has $140 per ton margin to work with on the meal production and $290 per ton margin when selling the oil.
So do the math on not only the feeding and digestibility advantages, but also the pure cost and margin advantages of ExPress® soy processing versus buying commodity solvent extracted soybean meal. You may be pleasantly surprised with the profit opportunity you have.
The fast food chain Chick-Fil-A announced that it would only serve chicken raised without the use of antibiotics within 5 years. Chick-Fil-A is the latest food company to change its production practices. Some of these emerging trends in food have been discussed on the Insta-Pro blog in the past.
Antibiotics have long been provided to commercially-raised poultry, almost always in the feed or water supply, at low levels. It was discovered that feeding antibiotics to broiler chickens resulted in growth promotion that could not be solely explained by nutrition. The effects of antibiotics on gut microbial populations are apparently at least part of how this works. Changes in intestinal structure are likely also involved, and are different with different antibiotics. It is probably a combination of effects that results in improved broiler performance.
One aspect of improved performance due to antibiotic use is uniformity. When antibiotics are fed, the body weights of the birds are closer together (less variable). This is important in an industry where large numbers of chickens are moved into facilities on the same day, fed for 6-7 weeks, and moved out together for processing. The less variation, the better.
For example, the research published by Miles et al. (2006) has shown this effect. Broilers were fed diets with one of two antibiotics, or without any. The standard error relative to the average body weight after 5 weeks of feeding is shown below. As each group had identical bird numbers, the data shows the relative variation in body weight.
As you can see in the graph above, antibiotic feeding (represented by the Bacitracin and Virginiamycin bars) resulted in more uniform body weights.
From the same study, antibiotic-fed birds had heavier live body weights (see above). The data at 7 weeks (not shown here) showed greater advantages with antibiotic feeding. This is interesting given the trend for heavier birds over the past few years.
To be sure, broiler producers will seek alternatives, such as probiotics, as they phase out antibiotic use. However, none of the alternatives have been studied as extensively as antibiotics have. Research on antibiotics in poultry production as far back as the 1950’s is referenced here.
What all of this indicates is that antibiotic-free broiler production will produce some level of uncertainty – less uniform and smaller body weights, both of which go against desires of the industry. So, what can be done?
The use of high-quality, consistently-processed ingredients in poultry diets will improve performance and consistency. Soybeans that have been extruded properly will reliably support broiler growth performance. For example, extruded, full-fat soy has been shown to maintain or enhance broiler performance when it replaced all solvent-extracted soybean meal in the diet. It is, therefore, important to work with a company with decades of experience in soybean processing – the know-how to consistently produce high-quality ingredients with their equipment. This will help to remove some of the uncertainty as broiler production evolves.