soybean news, soymeal, feed formulation

By L. Nernberg, Lighthouse Agri-Solutions

Advancements in animal production systems have led to a more refined approach to feed and nutrition programs. These programs are now tailored with increasing precision to suit the individual needs of each animal, considering factors like genetics, growth stage, environment and health status. By providing animals with a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional requirements, overall performance can be enhanced. This approach not only improves resource utilization but also boosts productivity in the animal agriculture sector. One emerging trend within this precision nutrition concept is the adoption of low crude protein diets.  

This dietary practice is gaining popularity due to its numerous benefits, which include: 

  • Enhanced performance 
  • Reduced production costs 
  • Improved animal health 
  • Decreased environmental impact of poultry and livestock feeding operations 

Low crude protein diets are feed formulations supplying essential amino acids and containing reduced levels of overall protein. These diets still meet the animals’ amino acids requirements for growth and performance. These diets are enabled by the current array of supplemental amino acids and variety of high-quality protein sources to offset the reduced protein content and optimize nutrient utilization.  

In contrast, traditional high protein diets contain higher levels of crude protein that may lead to increased feed costs, gut health concerns and excess nitrogen excretion. The shift toward low crude protein diets provides a method to a more efficient and sustainable approach to animal nutrition.  

When formulating low crude protein diets, it is critical to focus on the nutritional requirements of the animal. For poultry and swine, there are specific amino acid profiles (Ideal Protein Concept) crucial for optimal growth and development basis, the genetics, stage of growth, physiological state and production goals.  

Implementing low crude protein diets for poultry and swine can lead to significant feed cost savings while maintaining animal performance. It has been shown that soybeans and soybean meal of U.S. origin is lower in crude protein and relatively higher in digestible amino acids versus South American competitors.   

With these characteristics, there is potential for U.S.-based soymeal to be an effective means to reduce overall crude protein in poultry and swine diets and a method to reduce the cost of animal diets when these nutrients are properly captured in the feed formulation matrix. The table below represents an example broiler starter feed formula illustrating both a financial advantage (feed-cost reduction) and method to potentially create a lower crude protein diet utilizing U.S.-origin soymeal products.  

Summary of Example Broiler Starter Feed Formulated with Soybean Meal of Differing Origin 

  Broiler Starter (BRA Soybean)  Broiler Starter (NSM Soybean) 
Ingredients (kg/MT)      
Corn   514  534 ↑ 
Soybean Meal (as per Origin)  271  255 ↓ 
Other Raw Material  150  150 
Soy Oil   23  19 ↓ 
Minerals/Additives/Other  42  42 
Total  1000 kg  1000 kg 
Nutrient Composition      
Metabolizable Energy (kcal/kg)   3000  3000 
Crude Protein (%)   21.8  20.9 ↓ 
Digestible Lysine (%)   1.12  1.12 
Digestible Methionine (%)   0.42  0.42 
Digestible Threonine (%)   0.76  0.76 
Digestible Tryptophan (%)   0.18  0.18 
Diet Cost ($USD/MT)   $439.57  $435.27 ↓ 


The table illustrates U.S.-derived soymeal representing an economical means to formulate a broiler feed with lower crude protein (by 0.9 percentage points or 4.12% reduction) yet still providing the required digestible amino acids. The table shows the financial advantage from the higher concentration of energy and digestible amino acids in U.S. soymeal leads to cost savings of $4.30 per MT of feed. Adopting this strategy in poultry and swine is a cost-effective strategy for producers to optimize feed efficiency, reduce production expenses and enhance overall profitability of animal production systems.  

Implementing low crude protein diets should be applied in consultation with qualified animal nutrition experts to validate the low protein formulations. Proper amino acid analysis of raw materials, correct application of supplemental amino acids and monitoring animal performance are essential to the process. By addressing these concerns producers can successfully feed low crude protein diets while optimizing performance and efficiencies.  

The rising interest among livestock producers worldwide in reducing crude protein content in animal feeds underscores a shift towards greater economic efficiency in the industry. With this, it is known that:  

  • Low protein diets are recognized as a crucial component in promoting environmental sustainability within animal production systems.  
  • Emphasizing precision nutrition management, particularly through ingredient analysis, emerges as a vital driver of success in this context.  
  • Prioritizing high-quality, sustainable ingredients, animal producers can not only enhance environmental efficiency but also optimize growth performance, benefiting both the animal agriculture sector and sustainability initiatives.  

Looking ahead, the nutritional composition of soybeans and soymeal sourced from the U.S. will continue to play a pivotal role in achieving optimal nutrient balance, enhancing financial returns and supporting the sustainability goals of livestock integrators and feed millers worldwide.