Feed accounts for the greatest portion of swine production costs, and feed cost has been increasing during the last decades due to increased competition of feed ingredients with the food and biofuel industry. Exposure to climate change is also expected to impact feed cost by changing growing conditions, and recent supply chain disruptions undermine the pricing structure for imported feedstuffs. Therefore, the need for alternative feed ingredients to ensure the economic sustainability of the swine industry cannot be overstated. To this end, utilization of co-products from the agri-processing of cereals and oilseed crops has the potential to help mitigate feed cost and to reduce the environmental footprint of pork production. In general, however, co-products of the agri-processing industry tend to be more variable in their nutrient composition and content of such anti-nutritional factors as non-starch polysaccharides, phytate, and trypsin inhibitors. For these reasons, it is critical that co-products are characterized for the nutritional value and means to enhance their nutritive value examined. We have evaluated a wide range of co-products, including canola meal, camelina meal, hemp meal, extruded soybean meal, wheat co-products, flaxseed meal, etc., and means of enhancing their nutritive values. Examined approaches to ameliorate the negative impact of anti-nutritional factors and optimize energy and nutrient availability in these co-products include: exogenous enzymes supplementation to increase nutrient digestibility, heat treatments to reduce anti-nutritional factors, and particle size reduction to increase nutrient availability.
Results of many of our studies clearly demonstrate that the nutritive value of these co-products for swine can be improved significantly through the application of these approaches, thus, offering opportunities to ensure sustainable swine production systems.