With all the sophistication in livestock feeding today, there is a fundamental truth still not widely recognized by the industry.
It’s about fibre.
“There’s a feeling out there that all fibre is basically the same,” says Rob Patterson, Technical Services Manager with Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.). “Actually, that’s not even close to the case.”
Understanding this – and the complexities involved – is critical, he says. Not only to optimize diets, but to properly match products to diets to livestock species for a truly precision approach.
“Fibre, to me, represents untapped territory to get a lot more out of feed and increase profitability,” says Patterson. “It’s a barrier when it should be an opportunity. If you can address it, you’re looking at substantial gains in feed value that translate directly to efficiency, performance and the bottom line of an operation.”
Optimizing ‘the triangle’ – species, feed, product
Treating all fibre the same is no different than treating all protein or nutrients the same – it’s a major oversight that leaves dollars on the table, says Patterson.
“Each feed source has a different fibre profile with different implications,” he says. “That in itself is very important to recognize. But in addition, a ‘hidden factor’ often overlooked is that each source contains not just one, but several different types of fibre. This is a fact still not widely discussed or taken into account as common knowledge across livestock industries.”
Products such as enzyme formulations that help break down feed can vary greatly in capability and quality. Some may only target one type of fibre. While others, such as multi-carbohydrase blends, can be precision formulated to target several types at once.
“It’s a pretty basic concept but it’s also a powerful one,” says Patterson. “What your product doesn’t target ends up being left undigested by the animal. It doesn’t provide any value and it becomes a waste. If your product just has one activity against fibre, you’re not getting all the value you could.”
Capturing full value
To truly maximize the potential, the approach required is a “total breakdown” strategy, says Patterson. This means taking stock of all the indigestible or hard-to-digest components in the diet and then using an enzyme product that best targets as many of these components as possible.
To illustrate, consider the indigestible fibre component (non-starch polysaccharides or “NSPs”) of a typical corn-soy diet for monogastrics. In a given sample, NSPs may comprise about 6 percent of the diet. Of this 6 percent of NSPs, xylan would comprise the greatest portion at 43 percent, followed by cellulose and beta-glucans at 35 percent, pectins at 8 percent, mannans at 4 percent, and various other NSP components making up the remaining 10 percent.
“If the approach is to use a single enzyme, a formulation with xylanase is the obvious choice for this type of diet,” says Patterson. “But even if the product used is the best of its kind and addresses this 43 percent of NSPs, there is still 57 percent not addressed. Total breakdown for this type of diet requires multiple enyzmes that address not just one of the NSPs but all of them.”
Even if some of the specific fibre types not addressed seem relatively small, with today’s tight margins and pressures to maximize production, it doesn’t take much for any untapped nutrients and energy to quickly add up to substantial dollars not captured, he says. “Any size of operation has the opportunity to get a strong return with the right approach.”