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Livestock Feed Industry
Saskatchewan’s feed ingredient industry is estimated to be valued at $1.6 billion or 36% of total value of the crops produced. The feed industry has several components: feed ingredient producers (farmers and producers of byproducts), specialty feed ingredient producers, commercial feed processors and on-farm feed processors. Each segment has a distinct role that changes and responds to trends within the crop and livestock sectors.
The largest segment by value is that of feed ingredient producers who produce the crops and byproducts for processing into animal feed. The principal crops used for feed are Barley, Wheat, oats, field peas and Canola meal, arising from the processing of canola seed. Barley is used as a portion of the grain provided in swine and other monogastric diets, but can constitute the total grain portion for beef cattle and dairy cows. Hull-less barley, which was bred to have a loose hull and is removed in threshing, has greater utility in swine and poultry diets because of increased digestibility. Wheat can be used for all species of livestock, but is used primarily for higher digestibility and energy as a feed for poultry and added energy in swine diets. Oat grain has seen a resurgence partly due to the demand for oats for the food Milling trade. Production levels for feed barley are affected by the demand and price for malt, where 80% of barley varieties grown are for malting, with malting acceptance being only 18–22% of malting barley produced; 75–80% of feed pea production is used for feed purposes. Canola seed is processed for its oil and the resultant 60% of the original seed is canola meal, the principal protein source produced in western Canada.
A number of other feed crops such as Rye, triticale, and flaxseed produce specialized food products such as omega-3 enhanced eggs from Flax. Other feed products arise from crop processing byproducts such as grain screening pellets. The processing of grain screenings arising from cleaning the exported grains prior to transport has resulted in savings to crop producers and allows value adding from increased livestock feeding enterprise. Changes in the crop and crop processing industries along with feed and food safety will increase the importance of this rapidly growing byproduct processing sector.
Crop production in Saskatchewan exceeds the capability of livestock to consume the feed crops grown. The majority of field peas and canola meal produced must be exported beyond Saskatchewan’s borders. Barley is in considerable excess, being exported to Alberta where it must compete against imported corn from the United States. It is important that feed sources are competitive to sustain efficient animal production. Much research and concerted effort is being placed on creating new feeds and forms that give increased competitiveness.
Forages are often forgotten in a province so dominated by cereal crop production. Forages constitute over 50% of the diet for dairy, beef and other ruminants. Alfalfa, brome, crested wheat grass, cereal hays (mainly oats), cereal silages (mainly barley) and native hays form the bulk of forages stored for feeding. Pasture grazing usually involves grasses such as crested wheat, brome, Russian wild rye grass and native grasses. Grazing seasons vary in length (approximately four months) with a recent trend to extend the season by techniques such as “swath grazing.” Production of alfalfa and timothy as forages for the export markets to Japan, Korea and Taiwan provides economic opportunities. Alfalfa dehydration plants for the manufacture of pellets and cubes have long been a mainstay of this industry segment, representing some of the larger feed manufacturing plants in Saskatchewan. The trend in market demand for longer fibre forage products is giving rise to double compressed hay bales (primarily timothy).
The commercial feed processors and on-farm processing facilities provide to the livestock industry a critical and important step. Feed compounders obtain feed ingredients, analyse nutrient content, formulate diets and process them by grinding or rolling, mixing and pelleting to service an industry and its animals demanding high quality performance feeds. As an example, rations are formulated to 0.1% of protein and are nutritionally balanced for over forty nutrients employing the most recent feed technology. Both complete feeds and supplements (protein, vitamin, mineral sources) are manufactured. Trends within the industry have seen a decline in complete feeds with supplement production growing. With this change the providing of nutritional expertise and management as a service is commonplace and forms the basis of a good marketing program of most commercial feed manufacturers.
The drive to specialization and increased unit size has shifted patterns of feed use in the industry. The poultry industries have relied on mainly on-farm processing (65%), and in the Beef Industry only supplements are typically purchased.
The livestock feed industry is rapidly changing not only responding to create new feeds with increased competitiveness but to capture opportunities. Because feed production is between crop production and livestock production, it is key to the health of both industries.
Vernon J. RaczPrint Entry
Further ReadingAnimal Nutrition Association of Canada (ANAC). 2001. Statistical Handbook. Winnipeg: Canada Grains Council.