As swine producers continue to find ways to survive in today's economic situation, researchers at the University of Illinois (U of I) are exploring alternative feedstuffs in growing pig diets to provide producers with more options.

Hans H. Stein, U of I associate professor in the department of animal sciences, says his team's research has shown that high-protein distillers’ dried grains (DDGs) can replace 100% of the soybean meal in a diet fed to finishing pigs without any effect on growth performance or carcass characteristics as long as the diets are fortified with crystalline Lysine, Threonine and Tryptophan.

High-protein DDGs are produced through a fractionation technology. In this process, bran and germ are removed from the corn, resulting in endosperm that is used for ethanol production. The coproduct that results is high-protein DDGs, which contains 41-45% crude protein. It contains more protein, but less fat and less fiber, than conventional DDG with solubles (DDGS).

Results of the research showed that replacing soybean meal with high-protein DDGs had no effect on average daily gain, average daily feed intake or feed conversion. It also revealed that high-protein DDGs contain more digestible energy than corn.

Stein says, "When 70% of a swine producer's variable cost is attributed to feed, it's important to let producers know they have options. In this case, we can let economics decide which option is best because the pigs don't care. If corn and soybean meal are expensive, high-protein DDGs may help lower feed costs."

This research was published in a December 2009 issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The research team included Beob Kim and Grant Petersen of the U of I, and Gary Allee and Buddy Hinson of the University of Missouri.