Skyrocketing prices in spray-dried whey together with changing values of bakery and distiller’s grains are creating a real challenge for pig producers, according to Dr. Joel DeRouchey of Kansas State University, speaking at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

DeRouchey noted that spray-dried whey has seen a “marked increase” in price in recent months, particularly when put in a historical context. Four years ago spray-dried whey – an important component of piglet diets – was selling for .24 a pound. Spray-dried whey is now selling for .75 a pound. “We need to be careful not to over budget or use too much of this as it can put us in the red, economically,” he said.

Download Dr. DeRouchey’s full PowerPoint presentation: World Pork Expo animal feed ingredient costs.

DeRouchey also spoke about bakery, a by-product of the human food industry and a common feed alternative for many producers in the Midwest. “Book values of bakery are not very representative of the actual bakery being marketed today,” he said. He noted that original book values for bakery had been for approximately 11 percent fat, an important number since fat contributes a major portion of bakery’s energy content. However, most bakeries are now producing product that is in the 7 percent to 9 percent fat range, which significantly reduces its energy value and consequently the price that producers can afford to pay for the product.


“This just reinforces the fact that with any ingredient we’ve got to know what it is we’re feeding. We’ve got to know the nutrient analysis so we can value it correctly,” he said.

DeRouchey also noted that distiller’s grains are currently going through a big transformation, citing a statistic that by the end of 2012, 80 percent of ethanol plants will be selling a reduced oil product. Instead of offering a distiller’s grain with a fat content of 10 percent to 11 percent, this will drop to 7 percent to 9 percent, with many plants offering a product that is even lower in oil content.

Particle size was also discussed, with DeRouchey noting that for every 100 micron change in particle size producers can expect a 1.2 percent improvement in feed efficiency, which is worth approximately $1 a pig. “If we feed them corn, that’s 600 microns versus 700 microns,” he said. He went on to say that if a producer is able to feed a high quality pellet, the feed efficiency response is generally about 6 percent to 7 percent and can potentially be looked at as an expense that can be gained back, though this is dependent on the circumstances of each producer.

“Many producers are asking more questions,” he observed. “They’re asking what they can afford, and whether pelleting feed is a viable option for them, economically.”