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STRATEGIES FOR SLOWER-GROWING BROILERS

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Not so long ago, when the entire focus of animal protein production was on lean growth in as few days as possible – maximize protein, minimize fat and days to market. While this is still true in many cases, there is an emerging trend in animal production related to slower growth.

Recently, Quiznos announced that they would source chicken from slower-growing broilers, and they are not alone. Panera Bread, along with Chipotle and Shake Shack, have also committed to eventually only buying slower-growth chickens. This follows a very successful market campaign in Holland that used the term “plofkip”, literally meaning “exploded chicken”.

So, one reason for the interest in slow-growers relates to animal welfare concerns, but other reasons exist, too. Human diet advice, which used to shun all animal fats, has shifted, and moderate consumption of animal fats is now actually encouraged with the Paleo and other evolution-based diets. In addition, fast-growing broilers are experiencing quality issues, such as “woody breast” and “white striping”, in the meat and there is also a belief that some older, slower-growing breeds of chickens produce meat with superior flavor.

So, what does this mean when trying to feed these slow-growing breeds? For starters, let’s point out that there is some uncharted territory here. Intensive broiler production has enjoyed vast R&D over the past few decades, including genetic selection to the point of producing strains that eat much more feed and grow much faster. In addition, modern broilers don’t respond to changes in diet composition the same way that swine predictably do. They’re basically just eating machines now, with well-defined nutrient requirements.

Reintroducing older breeds will, therefore, bring along some uncertainties. In addition, slow-growers will put producers in a situation where the birds eat less per day, but could very easily end up consuming more feed through the growth period because it will take them more time to reach market weight (unless, of course, market weights are reduced from current standards)

As these birds eat less per day, it’s critical to formulate nutrient-dense diets so that each unit of feed consumed contains adequate levels of energy, amino acids, and so on. Extruded soy meals,soy meal and extruded full-fat soy, have less water and more available energy and amino acids than commodities, and thus, will help to create a nutrient-dense diet.

FEEDING MODERN SOWS

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In 1978, the length of a 6-month-old gilt was about 110 cm (~ 43 in) and weighed about 100 – 110 kg (220-242 lb). Weaning efficiency was around 18-21 pigs per sow per year. Piglets were weaned at 40-45 days to maximize milk production of the lactating sows.

Today, modern sows can produce 35-40 pigs per sow per year – almost double the performance of sows 39 years ago. Body length, growth rate, feed intake, and milk production of lactating sows were pushed forward through genetic development and nutrient density.

However, the selection of superior genetics has affected other traits. For example, modern sows are highly sensitive to heat, resulting in the reduction of their daily feed intake, which affects reproductive performance and milk production in lactating sows. As a solution, feeding specific levels of energy and lysine can counteract heat stress effects on the volume of sow milk production.

An effective and inexpensive source of energy and amino acids for modern sow feed is protein-rich soybeans. However, soybeans cannot be fed raw because anti-nutritional factors like trypsin inhibitors, urease, and lectins are not inactivated unless the soybean is processed. Anti-nutritional factors adversely affect the digestive efficiency. Thus, there is a need to process or cook the raw soybeans.

There are several methods of processing or cooking soybeans, including: toasting, micronization, expansion, solvent extraction, high shear dry extrusion, and wet extrusion. One research study by McNab and colleagues (1985) showed amino acid digestibility using different processing methods. The authors concluded that high shear dry extrusion was an efficient way to process soybeans by inactivating anti-nutritional factors and improving protein digestibility in chicks.

When processing soybeans for feeding modern sows, proper processing temperature is critical to inactive anti-nutritional factors, while increasing protein digestibility. It has been scientifically concluded that high shear dry extrusion of soybeans should reach the minimum processing temperature that we recommend to our customers. Recently, Dr. Carl Parsons from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) showed the following data for amino acid digestibility and metabolizable energy of high shear dry extruded full-fat soy (EFFS) at proper processing temperature. When EFFS was fed to chickens, the digestibility of cysteine and threonine increased, while methionine and lysine remained similar when compared with solvent extracted soybean meal. Additionally, birds fed EFFS had 68% more metabolizable energy than birds fed solvent extracted soybean meal.

In conclusion, high shear dry extrusion under proper processing temperatures improves the nutrient value of EFFS providing an excellent source of palatable fat and energy in the diets of modern sows. Additionally, EFFS contains highly digestible protein and amino acids allowing for improved digestibility. Overall, there are many advantages to high shear dry extrusion processing of soybeans over other processing methods.

GET MORE WITH A QUALITY PROCESS & QUALITY INGREDIENTS

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Investing in high-quality ingredients versus inexpensive ingredients for feed. The author described a recent nursery pig formulation as follows:

“With a reasonable margin, I was able to add some really useful ingredients, the right additives at the right dosages, and still offered the formula at a final cost less than the competing product” [the competing product had only “cosmetic” additives].

This kind of thinking can either result in a livestock producer making a profit or losing money. The cost of feeding animals is 70% or more of the total costs of production. Because of this, one must consider the availability and prices of ingredients, which are always changing. Perhaps more than realized, the qualities of the ingredients are always changing, too.

We like to think of some ingredients as commodities – stable, giving you the same amount of available nutrients with each load. But, even for something as common as corn, this isn’t always true. The metabolizable energy content of batches of US corn – a global “commodity”- for broilers, varied by 195 kcal/kg. This variation could easily affect performance.

There has been a large amount of research into products from our equipment that has allowed us to thoroughly understand our processes and how the final products will perform. Our core products include extruded whole soybeans (extruded full-fat soy) and(extruded, pressed) soy meal.

Customers have and improved digestibility and milk production in dairy, creating a consistent source of highly digestible nutrients, improved performance in layers, catfish, and swine, and what all of this means for diet formulations.

BUILDING STRONG TEAMS

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In the agricultural business, having the right people on our teams is key. Getting them to work well together is even more important.

Good characteristics of a strong team:

Strong Vision

People have to understand the big picture. How the vision is formed and communicated is key.

Do your employees know why the business exists? It may seem simple to you, but for others it’s not. People must be tied into a greater purpose, otherwise burnout and boredom will overtake them. Even the best employees will wither if not tied into a greater purpose. What’s your company’s vision? If it isn’t clear, it’s time to address that.
Individual Strengths Used on the Team

We all have strengths. Some people know them clearly, some don’t. First, you need to get clear on your own strengths and talents. StrengthsFinder is a great resource for this as well as a program called StandOut. Knowing your strengths is the first step. The next step is that everyone recognizes strengths and utilizes them well. If you have a great employee who is fantastic with the ‘big picture’ and inspiring people, that may not be the best person to put in charge of your accounting processes. Yes, if you’ve got someone who is fantastic with numbers and details, but big picture and relationships aren’t their strength, it’s not a good idea to have them as a Sales Manager for your business. This isn’t rocket science – it’s a matter of staying in tune with your employees and encouraging them to serve in your business by empowering them to do what they are best at.
Emotionally Bonded

That’s right. Your team has to be emotionally connected. If you are not comfortable with this, you should get comfortable. Like it or not, we are all emotional beings. We need to feel connection around us and we need to be valued by those around us.

Our team puts forth these characteristics every day. Building a good team can seem like a daunting task, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll see the difference in morale, productivity, and profitability if you stick with it.

FOOD AID OR TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER? WHICH OPTION IS MORE LOGICAL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL HUNGER?

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An article by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A new development of fully cooked instant Corn Soy Blend (CSB) by an Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Scientist was reported.

The justification for this instant cooked CSB is to address the concerns of off-flavors, shelf life and uneven nutrient distribution in CSB.

The ARS scientist used a twin screw extruder to achieve the objectives. It is obvious to those who are familiar with the cost of such an extruder that the intent here is to promote manufacturing the CSB in the U.S. and not in the region where the CSB is needed.

What is CSB?
CSB is a product that was developed about 50 years ago by Agriculture Research Service (ARS) scientists as a partially cooked blend of corn and raw soy. The CSB is then fortified with vitamins and trace minerals. Other Fortified Blended Foods (FBF) were also developed using different combinations of grains and pulses in the same manner. The justification of partially cooked CSB is that a further cooking in water will take place as gruel is being constituted.

Handout or technology transfer?
The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP), non-government organizations (NGO’s) and faith based organizations have promoted the idea of in-region processing of CSB and not to totally depend on charity from abroad to provide the product.

Extrusion and in particular, extruders have been used as one of the major methods of processing CSB or FBF in the region where the product is needed.

The technology and know-how were provided to the local processors in many countries where hunger and starvation are prevalent, thus:

Employing people
Reducing their dependence on food from abroad
Capitalizing on the local ingredients and resources
On the other hand, CSB is being provided for many poor countries through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) along with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Food for Peace Act. This option may help in the immediate need during a crises resulting from conflicts or droughts but, in the long run, it should not be a standard policy in fighting hunger.

Some advocates for fighting world hunger may argue the fact that the U.S. food aid policies may perpetuate poverty. Providing CSB manufactured in the United States and shipped by U.S. firms to be distributed to the starving and hungry people in developing and under-developed countries does not provide incentives for their independence.

Food aid policies may not advance the food security for them and may not help the indigenous people in developing their resources to meet their needs.

The ideal system is to provide an affordable technology to manufacture the CSB or other FBF locally, thus:

Employing more people
Reducing the cost
Utilizing local ingredients as much as possible
Avoiding the dependence on foreign aid
Providing U.S. aid in the form of food to countries, including those that are not politically stable, may not assure delivery of the food to the starving and needy people.

SUCCESS = EXPANSION POSSIBILITIES

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In the extrusion business, luck does not determine success. The quality of the products you produce and sell is what dictates your future. It has been said that quality is equal to superiority and most of our clients can attest to that statement. They have seen the benefits of producing a higher caliber product and understand that a high quality product is made from high quality machine. That is why they have continued to choose Quadro Alloys extruders over the rest.

In the Philippines, a businessman is selling 100% extruded full fat soybeans (EFFSB) to pig and poultry farms. Farmers chose to buy products processed by exrusion over their competitors because of quality. They have proven to their customers that properly processed EFFSB is:

an excellent source of fat & energy
an excellent source of digestible protein & amino acids
highly palatable for better feed efficiency
an excellent source of choline
a longer lasting product due to the presence of natural Tocopherols
a high quality polyunsaturated fat (linoleic acid)
All of these benefits have made all the difference for them. Comparison and competition are always present, especially when selling feed and food products, which is why manufactures must find a way to set themselves apart to keep their business alive. Selling a higher quality product to a market who’s willing to pay the higher price can be an effective way to do this.

Regardless of how they make themselves stand out, successful company owners will continue to find ways to differentiate and expand their business. Purchasing quality equipment by itself is not enough to assure producing high quality superior extruded whole soybeans. It is the optimization of the process that involves our recommendations and input.

Expansion and growth are always in the mind of customers because growth is the key to keeping a business profitable. In SE Asia, many successful businessmen believe that additional investment will soon convert to a successful outcome as long as you produce quality products.

RUSSIAN SOYBEAN MARKET ON THE RISE

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For the last ten years soy production in Russia has increased from 554 thousand tons in 2004 to 2.6 million tons in 2014. Still, Russia is not self-sufficient in this crop. In 2014, Russia imported 2 million tons of soybeans mainly from Brazil and Uruguay. By 2020 it is estimated that Russia will produce up to 7 million tons of soybeans.

Currently, 95% of soybeans grown in Russia are used for animal feeds and only 5% are used for food purposes to make soy milk products, meat substitutes and meat extenders. There are plans in Russia to increase production of soy meat and milk products such as soy isolates, soy concentrates, textured soy proteins, soy milk and so on.

The main driver for increased soy consumption in Russia is the rapidly growing poultry industry, swine production and aquaculture. According to local statistics agency overall meat production in January-September of 2015 compared to same time period last year has increased by 14.2%.

Until recently, local companies from the Far East of Russia have been the major players in soybean production market. However, the situation is changing as large agro holding companies in this country are entering this risky but lucrative market. This is risky because of climatic conditions in different parts of the country, but at the same time lucrative due to high ROI. We are seeing that more and more soybeans are grown in Central parts of Russia such as Belgorod, Brynsk and Kursk regions. Southern Russia is also increasing the soy production in regions like Krasnodar and Stavropol.

Most of the soy processed in Russia uses conventional solvent chemical technology. Customers in Russia process soy for their own use but there also a few that are successfully processing beans for commercial purposes and this number is constantly growing. The main reason businesses are investing in extrusion technology is the high quality end product, durability and reliability of equipment, proven technology and quality control. One of the most important factors is also a chemical free process as consumers all over the world are becoming more sensitive to what they eat. Therefore, food companies are looking for alternatives to solvent technology.

As of today, one of the major meat producers and food processors in Russia is using extrusion for processing soybeans which is fed to poultry and animal husbandry. We are seeing this trend to be on the rise worldwide where key players in different meat production segments are using mechanical technology to process soy.

SAFETY WHEN WORKING ON EXTRUDERS

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Safety is often overlooked, but it is one of, if not the most important, responsibilities of the workplace. Large machinery is very heavy and consists of moving parts that can lead to serious injuries, if safety is not taken seriously.

Before working on an extruder, always lock out or tag out the panel to cut off all power to the machine and other auxiliary equipment. This is done to avoid the extruder from unexpectedly turning on. Also, be careful when handling parts because they can be very heavy. Depending on what style of extruder you have, chambers can weigh up to 85LBS a piece.

Even after the power is cut off from the extruder, you must remain cautious because pressure and high temperatures are still present. To minimize the pressure and temperature of the extruder, clear out all of the product that is still in the chambers, when possible. This can be done by shutting off the feeder and letting the extruder run for about a half minute with no feed going in.

By running the extruder without feed, it will help clear out most of the product that is still inside and some of the pressure. This doesn’t necessarily release all of the pressure, so, it helps to also open up the nose cone about two turns while the extruder is still running, to help clear out as much pressure as possible. Once that is complete, turn the extruder completely off, and put some high temperature gloves on (leather and/or welding gloves work great) and wait for the extruder to come to a complete stop.

To continue, remember to never stand in front of the nose cap when you perform a shut-down. Taking the nose cap off is a vital concern as there still may be pressure behind it. Instead, remove the clamp bolts about halfway, and while grabbing both sides of the clamps, try to move them back and forth. If they move easily, that’s usually a good indicator that there is not much pressure left in the machine, but not a guarantee. To finish off, still standing off to the side, remove the clamp bolts completely and take the bottom clamp off.

These are just some of the most important aspects of safety when servicing or shutting down an extruder, but every situation and person is different.

EXCESSIVE PROTEIN FORMULATIONS – COUNTERPRODUCTIVE AND INCREASE POLLUTION

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A recent Feed Management article highlighted the problems of including excess protein in broiler diets. Providing more protein than the required amount in feed has become a common practice that producers and nutritionists believe maintains costs low, but, actually, increases them, since this results in reduced broiler productivity and health.

Even though it’s overwhelmingly clear that broilers, and all animals, require amino acids (not protein), providing “safety margins” in many commercial formulas is still common. Often, nutritionists and producers formulate more than the required amount because of concerns with increasing days to market – adding a few more days before you ship the birds and clean out the barns means that fewer total birds each year will be marketed.

On the surface, it’s not illogical to think this way because differences in amino acid digestibility among and between ingredients exist and can hinder performance when the digestible supply of amino acids is reduced for some reason. In addition, changes in production practices, such as the reduction or elimination of antibiotics, are adding uncertainty to broiler performance. So, ultimately, it seems to make sense to put some extra protein (amino acids) in a formulation.

However, there are three main problems with this line of thinking. First, there is no way to store excess amino acids and getting rid of them truly represents a cost to the bird. Nitrogen in protein goes through an elimination process and must be excreted, costing energy. Energy, in absolute terms, is the most expensive portion of a diet, so overfeeding protein could, in fact, reduce the energy available for productive growth and increase your days to market, too.

Second, some excess protein passes though the digestive tract to the hindgut where it is fermented. Fermentation of proteins favors pathogenic bacteria that can cause disease outbreaks in the flock and combining this with reducing or eliminating antibiotics could spell trouble.

Third, incorporating excess protein results in increased water consumption by the birds. The article notes that for every 1 percent of excess dietary protein consumed, water intake increases by about 3 percent. Not only does this increase resource use for millions of birds, but will also result in “wet litter”, which has significant animal welfare effects.

Finally, like energy, protein is expensive and should be included only where cost-benefit analysis (i.e., more lysine equals more growth) indicates. In addition, as I’ve written about before, excessive nutrients in feed can be externalized into the surrounding environment. This can result in the water becoming contaminated with nitrogen from excessive dietary protein and leaving the farm, affecting others and resulting in conflict.

Overall, strategies that keep more amino acids in the animal will be good for both the bottom line and the environment. Using high-quality, highly-digestible amino acid sources, such as properly-processed extruded soy meal, will help accomplish this. In addition, lower-protein diets containing synthetic amino acids, like L-lysine, will be able to maintain performance with less protein. When utilizing the extrusion process to produce feed, the risk of feeding excess protein along with the chances of externalizing any chemicals into the environment can be reduced.

COST CUTTING MEASURES CAN BE COSTLY TO YOUR BUSINESS

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Management of costs is critical for every business, it is important to identify the areas where cost cutting is done responsibly and without adverse impact to the overall success of the business. Below is an example of where a decision was made to cut costs that resulted in a negative impact to the profit of the business.

At a customer who is using extrusion technology for processing soybeans, the General Manager complained that their oil presses were operating inefficiently and leaving 10% residual oil in the soy press cake compared to previous residual oil level of 7.5%. When questioning the head engineer as to what he believed was the explanation for higher residual oil, he shared it was due to the decision by management to reduce costs by not replacing the oil press parts that wore out.

In an effort to analyze the impact of this decision, a follow up with the General Manager to share prices their company receives for selling extruded soy meal and soy oil. From this the loss was calculated in oil revenue by leaving 2.5% more oil in the meal (10%-7.5%). The effect was the customer was selling oil left in the meal at meal price instead of at much higher value as soy oil. This resulted in a loss of revenue of R105.10 for every ton of soybeans processed, all in an attempt to save approximately R10 per ton in wearing parts for the press. If left uncorrected this decision would have resulted in an annual loss of revenue of R1 526 636. Thus, the intended cost savings actions actually resulted in significant negative impact.

Our team provide recommendations to our customers to ensure they operate their business and equipment to produce extruded products efficiently while maintaining the highest quality and performance. Our team is available to provide onsite evaluations to identify ways to help you effectively cut costs while maximizing profitability.