Glycerin, a biodiesel byproduct, may be a viable feed source in swine diets, according to a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study.

Researchers say that up to 15% of a pig's typical corn and soybean diet can be replaced with glycerin, leading to a possible cost-effective alternative during a time when corn and soybean prices are going up. “If the price was low enough, it could lead to a low-cost diet,” said Michael Ellis, an animal sciences professor at the University of Illinois. “The prices vary with market conditions. The problem has become that corn and soybeans have become expensive so now there’s more incentive on a cost basis to produce a cheaper diet than corn or soybeans.”


Prices for corn and soybeans have doubled in the last four months, according to Illinois pork producer Mike Haag, but the initial adaptation to using glycerin has costs of its own. Most swine feeders are designed to handle dry products, so introducing a liquid might require the installation of heated tanks and the modification of current feeder systems. “You need to make sure when you add these all up that it’s cost efficient,” said Haag.