ISA Special Alert #5 Pricing Soybean Meal Based on Protein Obscures Feed Value
Livestock Producers Want Soybean Amino Acids; Soybean Sold Based on Protein
Soybean meal processors selling soybeans based on protein to livestock producers creates a disconnect between how soybeans are sold and how nutritionists value the meal. The disconnect is that soybeans are sold based on protein, but livestock nutritionists seek amino acids.
Research conducted by the Illinois Soybean Association’s checkoff-funded HY+Q (High Yield PLUS Quality) program shows that soybean protein alone relates poorly to feed value. HY+Q is working to reverse declining soybean value in livestock feed.
Today’s livestock nutritionists formulate feed based on amino acids. “Animals don’t have a protein requirement, they have an amino acid requirement,” explains Bart Borg, director of nutrition at Standard Nutrition Services. “Ration software programs are designed to help us meet specific dietary needs of the animal, in this case specific amino acids,” making amino acids values, not protein values, important in feed ingredient decisions.
Nutritionists know exactly what each amino acid is worth. Pricing soybean meal based on protein hides that amino acid value. The difference at the variety level could be up to several dollars per hog in finishing costs between the top and bottom varieties. That amounts to billions at a global level.
HY+Q found that some varieties have substantially more feed value because the amino acids levels in them are higher and are worth more.
The black circles in this chart represent the varieties with a protein content greater than 35 percent and an oil content greater than 19 percent. This is the traditional target because those soybeans will make meal at 46.5 percent protein.
Even though all of the varieties represented on the graph meet the criteria to make 46.5 percent protein soybean meal, the actual value of the soybean meal ranges from $300—$337 per ton. The varieties lower in soybean meal value have lower concentrations of the critical amino acids animal nutritionists value for feeding their pigs.
Visit Soyvalue.com to see which soybean varieties represented by the black circles in the chart above have higher soybean meal value, and plant those on your farm. You can also order a test kit to discover how well your soybeans meet the needs of your customers.
Watch for the next email in this series to learn more about what seed companies are doing to elevate soybean quality.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean growers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.