Livestock and poultry producers depend on Nebraska soybean farmers for safe, plenty feed supply, says Greg Anderson, Newman Grove and Nebraska Soybean Board ex officio officer.
The success of biofuels such as ethanol and soy biodiesel has led to changes in feedstock supplies. Many livestock and poultry producers have had to consult with animal nutritionists to address these changes and incorporate biofuels byproducts into their feed formulations.
Despite these changes, soybean meal remains a consistent ingredient, Anderson says. The soybean checkoff is working with nutritionists to ensure that soybean meal remains the leading protein source for animal feed.
Crushing soybeans for biodiesel does not change the meal consistency. When soybeans are processed for biofuels, they go through the same extraction process as they do when they're crushed to extract oil for other purposes. Extracting the oil from a soybean leaves the soybean meal as a high-protein feedstock. This soybean meal remains relatively consistent for livestock and poultry producers whose operations consume more than 98% of the domestic soybean meal used in the United States.
"As a soybean farmer, the boost in biodiesel production is really exciting," says Anderson. "The soybean checkoff has been working hard to make biodiesel a viable fuel source. We also realize the concerns of our animal production neighbors about what biofuels may do to the cost and quality of their feed supplies. For us, biodiesel represents a win-win situation. We have a greater demand for soybean oil, and we have a large amount of high-quality, consistent soybean meal to supply to the feed industry, our number one customer of soybean meal."
For animal nutritionists, soybean meal remains one of the best protein ingredients available for feed formulations due to its exceptional amino acid complex. This makes it an ideal protein source to work hand in hand with all of the other feedstocks available, including distillers grains byproducts from ethanol production. The available lysine in soybean meal can make up for amino acid deficiencies in distillers grains.
"Soybean meal remains the best natural source of supplemental protein and compliments other feed ingredients well," says Dr. Nick Bajjalieh of Integrative Nutrition, Inc. "The farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff fund research to develop soybean meal that continues to meet customer demands and fill the needs of the livestock and poultry industry. The soybean checkoff has also been working with leading animal nutritionists from around the country to ensure that soybean meal remains the protein of choice in their feed formulations."
The consistency of protein from soybean meal also benefits the livestock and poultry producers who are purchasing the meal.
"The inclusion of soybean meal in the diets I feed my hogs allows me to provide a high-protein, high-energy ration to my animals and leads to a higher feed-to-meat-conversion ratio," says Bill Luckey, a pork producer from Columbus. "For a livestock producer, meeting those feed efficiencies allows us to be profitable and ensure that our end product is of the highest quality for consumers."
To find out more about soybean meal and its importance to Nebraska's animal agriculture industry, visit www.nebraskasoybeans.org. For information on the soybean checkoff's research on soybean meal in livestock and poultry diets, visit www.animalag.org.