soybean news, northern soy marketing

By L. Nernberg, Lighthouse Agri-Solutions

Over the last months, Northern Soy Marketing (NSM) was actively involved as a Gold Sponsor of the Asian Agri-Biz Broiler Feed Quality Conference (BFQC) and provided an opportunity to further illustrate the enhanced value of northern-grown soybeans and soymeal to feed millers and broiler producers across Southeast Asia and globally. The event offered a blend of a three-part streaming online technical presentations and discussions in February, followed by a live event in Thailand from March 13-14, 2024. The streaming sessions attracted over 250 participants from over 20 countries and the live event in Bangkok comprised 170 delegates from over 18 countries, providing varying insights into broiler feed quality, production issues and identifying opportunities for the industry.  

One of the key agenda items and topics of the conference comprised a series of presentations in identifying methods for “Moving Beyond Crude Protein Diets.” The online sessions, led by Matthew Clark, FeedGuys, featured experts and presentations from Dr. Bob Swick; University of New England (“Crude Protein: Do we need to change the way we use this measure”); Dr. Mike Kidd, University of Arkansas (“Amino Acid Density Research: Know your Birds”); and other industry professionals identifying various nutritional practices to enhance protein digestion and utilization in broiler chicken production.  

The “Moving Beyond Crude Protein Diets” presentations provided various insights into the analysis of crude protein and advantages in progressing to the application of digestible amino acids in broiler diet formulations. The introductory presentations reviewed the history of “crude protein” as a measurement of ingredient quality and how the analysis has its advantages in being easy and economical to conduct but with limitations on accuracy across a broad range of raw materials. In discussion with Dr. Bob Swick, he identified that the crude protein concept was recognized over 150 years ago whereas the amino acid requirements of animals has been established within the last 50 years. It was added that, “crude protein content of ingredients still remains a purchasing specification for feed mills, however, the animal requires digestible amino acids for maintenance and growth of animal tissues and not crude protein per se.” Dr. Swick also identified that the analysis for crude protein is highly variable and inconsistent between laboratories along with the total amino acid content not being a linear relationship with increasing protein level of feed ingredients.  

“The analysis and application of these digestible amino acids and metabolizable energy via Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) holds the most advantages over simply using crude protein when formulating animal diets,” Swick said. 

The live conference also featured a streaming presentation from Dr. Seth Naeve, associate professor and soybean agronomist with University of Minnesota, in review of the 2023 U.S. soybean crop. The report revealed that significant drought conditions in much of the U.S. impacted the yield and soybean crop of the past year. Dr. Naeve presented data showing that the protein of U.S. soybeans was on average down by 0.2%, whereas oil content increased by 0.1%. The protein level of U.S. soybeans is lower than Brazilian sources but generally show higher protein quantity than soybeans from Argentina. Dr. Naeve also highlighted how the amino acid content and Critical Amino Acid Value (CAAV) should also be considered in determining quality of differing sources of soybeans and soybean meal from across the globe. 

The conference topic in reviewing crude protein versus digestible amino acid requirements of poultry was very timely and relevant to the use of northern-grown soybeans and derived products in broiler diet feed formulations. Even though northern U.S. soybeans tend to slightly lower in crude protein the data does not reveal that the soybean meal contains any significant disadvantages after processing. This is particularly evident when digging deeper into the total amino acid and digestible amino acid profiles. Crude protein is not a nutritional requirement of animals; rather, it is the balance of digestible amino acids that is of value to feed formulations and subsequent animal performance. The BFQC discussions were a means to illustrate this concept plus was integral information to providing a framework for soybean meal purchasers and government officials regulating crude protein minimums in animal feeds to consider adapting to a new set of standards.  

Throughout the “Moving Beyond Crude Protein” conference session, there were various advantages identified in advancing broiler diets that contain lower levels of crude protein. Some of the positive aspects include improved gut health due to reduced proteolytic and pathogenic bacteria (eg. Clostridium spp.), reduction of environmental pollution (lower nitrogen excretion), enhanced floor litter conditions leading to better leg and carcass quality, and a means to achieve sustainability targets and requirements.  

Using the current analyzed values in the feed formulation matrix we simulated an example broiler starter feed formula (as below) illustrating both a financial advantage and method to potentially create a lower crude protein diet without compromising animal performance.  

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 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 ↓ 


With the above feed formulations, NSM region and U.S.-derived soybeans represent 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 for optimal broiler growth and performance. The financial advantage from the higher concentration of digestible amino acids provides a cost savings of $4.30 per MT of feed.   

Overall, the concept of reducing crude protein in animal feeds is gaining more attention from poultry and livestock producers across the globe for various reasons and advantages. Going forward, soybeans and soybean meal derived from U.S. origin will play a key role in achieving the nutritional, financial and sustainability objectives of poultry integrators, feed millers and consumers alike.