The United States and Canada should join forces to create a win-win situation for ethanol production and hog farming. That was the message from an Alberta scientist to a recent international grains conference in Guatemala.
Eduardo Beltranena, an Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development research scientist, said U. S. ethanol plants can broaden their markets by selling distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to pork producers in Canada.
DDGS is a byproduct from U. S. plants which use corn to make ethanol for blending into vehicle fuel. It is also a low-priced high-protein feed which can significantly lower hog producers’ production costs, Beltranena said in a presentation to the recent U. S. Grains Council’s marketing conference in Guatemala City.
“Feed costs account for 70 per cent of the overall cost of production, so reduction is crucial to the producer,” he told the conference.
Beltranena presented preliminary data on a swine feeding trial in Alberta using high levels of corn DDGS in the diet.
The trial is researching ways to feed pigs DDGS without affecting the appearance and quality of the meat.
Corn DDGS contains high levels of unsaturated fat, which can soften the fat in the pork. This makes bacon slices stick together and sausage appear oily and runny.
Cattle in feedlots are often given DDGS in their feed rations. Bacteria in the rumen of cattle converts the corn oil into a saturated fat, so meat quality is not affected.
But because pigs are not ruminants, high levels of corn DDGS in the diet can affect meat quality unless proper withdrawal times are observed, Beltranena said.
The trial is trying to determine how much DDGS producers can feed pigs to minimize feed costs while not affecting growth performance.
It will also evaluate the length of time needed to withdraw DDGS from the diet so as not to affect pork quality.
Contacted in Edmonton, Beltranena said other trials are examining the effect of both wheat and triticale DDGS on production costs and pork quality.
Consumer sensory tests will also gauge the effect of feeding DDGS on the taste of pork. Just because DDGS-fed pork may appear different doesn’t automatically mean it’s a problem, said Beltranena.
“The bacon may appear oily and jelly but the consumer may not be able to tell you the difference, so it may not matter.”
Beltranena said feeding DDGS would work best in a vertically integrated or closed-loop system. Because they own the farms or deal directly with producers, packers would be able to ensure pigs were given proper withdrawal times before shipping.
Hytek Ltd. of La Broquerie has fed corn DDGS to its pigs for several years. But the rates are only five to 20 per cent of the total ration, so withdrawal times are not an issue, said Dennis Kornelsen, the company’s grain purchaser.
Asked if feeding DDGD is price competitive, Kornelsen said, “We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.”
But DDGS has to be used in a nutritionally balanced ration with other feedstuffs, he added. [email protected]