Feed Ingredients in a Volatile Market

It is crucial to be forward-thinking with your swine diets and the ingredients that make up those rations in our current market of ever-changing prices. As grain prices trend upward, it is important to keep in mind the quality of ingredients you are feeding and the alternative ingredients available to you.

With a dry and warm harvest season, hopefully, your corn is well situated in the bin. Our best recommendation is to be aware of the quality of the grains you plan to feed your animals. Collecting a sample to send off for testing is all too easy and something to keep up with as you switch bins or sources of the corn being fed. To establish a simple baseline, we look at a proximate analysis and mineral composition of your corn, which helps us understand the protein, moisture, and other nutritional factors your corn may or may not have. This also allows us to supplement your grain with the appropriate amount of other nutrients necessary to balance your swine diets.

The other quality control measure you should consider would be to test the other ingredients you purchase in bulk. Soybean meal and dried distillers grains (DDGs) are essential products to supplement protein and calories to your swine diets. With the steadily increasing costs of grains and grain by-products, it is important to know that you are receiving the levels you are expecting of protein and fat.

Mycotoxins are the other factor that has become more of a pressing issue. While primarily found in corn, they are prevalent across the board. Mycotoxins are considered a major issue, causing abortions in sows, reducing performance in growing pigs, and affecting mortality in pigs of all sizes. Mycotoxin levels can vary greatly, based on rainfall or lack thereof. Grain handling and drying corn to an appropriate moisture level in the bin, and screening corn can help eliminate cracked kernels and other materials where excess toxins can thrive. It is recommended that with every load of corn brought in or when you switch to a new bin, you stay consistent with your grain quality and what is being fed to your pigs.

Watching the price of grain commodities has been like riding a rollercoaster, and as of late, has been steadily increasing. With that in mind, it is important to keep an eye on the market changes and the different options at your disposal, depending on the prices you have locked-in or the price your local provider quotes you. The biggest consideration is in your growing pig population. One option is to use dried distillers grains (DDGs) to supplement your diets with another protein source, fat, and other nutrients. DDGs are often used, but considering what level to use is determined by what will help you through times with higher prices. For example, in May of 2020, prices of DDGs increased, and only producers with contracts could afford them. Likewise, this fall, the price of DDGs dropped dramatically, making them much more affordable to producers. Therefore, we should closely monitor prices as they are ever-changing.

Regardless of price, the quality of your feed ingredients is essential. Consider testing your new crop corn and the other ingredients you feed each time you receive a new batch. Identifying the deficiencies in your base ingredients allows us to customize your basemix or premix  further to fit your needs best and eliminate unnecessary costs. There are plenty of resources regarding proper grain handling and various grain testing companies to help you keep nutrient values and overall grain quality high. At Sioux Nation, we would be happy to discuss
proper protocol, when to test, how often to test, and what to look for when handling grain. We would be glad to discuss price considerations with different feed ingredients and make the best decision for you and your animals.