Soybean meal (SBM) is the primary protein ingredient in poultry and swine diets and generally accounts for most of the feed cost. However, its quality and nutritional value vary due to regional crop, processing, and storage conditions which can impact animal performance and feed cost. This study aimed to evaluate the nutrient and energy composition of North Carolina (NC) SBM and compare the differential feed cost to SBM of other origins. A total of 35 and 45 samples of SBM produced in NC in 2020 and 2021 were collected and analyzed by NIRS. Proximate composition, energy, and quality parameters were determined using AminoNIR (Evonik) calibration curves. The nutrient and energy values of SBM produced in the Eastern and Western regions in the USA, Brazil, and Argentina were obtained from the AminoNIR (Evonik) 2020 and 2021 reports. Feed was formulated in a least-cost software (Concept 5.0®) for diverse feeding phases of broilers, layers, and swine. For each one of these diets, SBM of these five origins was included at different levels to achieve the lowest feed cost. Broiler starter (35-36% SBM inclusion), grower (33-35%), and finisher (29-31%) diets were formulated following Ross 708 (2019) nutrient specifications. Brown and white layer diets for phases 1 (26-28% SBM inclusion) and 2 (21-22%) were formulated following the Hy-Line (2021) nutrient guidelines. For swine, growing boars, and gilts, phases 2 (20-25% SBM inclusion), and 3 (14-16%), were formulated using PIC (2021) recommendations. Nutrient and energy data were analyzed in a one-way ANOVA and means separated using Tukey’s HSD test. Significant differences between SBM of different origins were observed for all parameters evaluated (P < 0.001). The NC SBM had the highest ME values for poultry (between 29-218 and 57-167 kcal/kg more for 2020 and 2021, respectively) among all other sources. SBM produced in NC also had the highest crude protein content in both years (47.53% and 47.84%). NC SBM had slightly lower amino acid (AA) content than Brazilian SBM but higher than Argentinian and Western US SBM and very similar to Eastern US SBM (P < 0.001). For both years, diets formulated with NC SBM were cheaper than using all other sources, between 2.38-31.08 US$/ton for broiler diets, 0.88-22.96 US$/ton for laying hen diets, and 2.05-14.98 US$/ton for swine diets, except for Brazilian SBM in the broiler starter.
In conclusion, this analysis indicated that SBM produced with soybeans grown in North Carolina in 2020 and 2021 had better nutrient and energy value, competitive AA content, and quality parameters. Therefore, using NC SBM would require lower synthetic AA and fat supplementation, reducing feed costs to obtain the same nutrient specifications.