Poultry farmers have choices when making feed decisions, and many favor U.S. soybean meal for its protein content and excellent amino acid makeup. According to the soy checkoff’s 2012 Animal Agriculture Economic Analysis, U.S. broilers ate more than 11 million tons of U.S. soy meal last year. That’s the meal from 480 million bushels of U.S. soybeans.
“Properly processed soybean meal is really the gold standard for poultry feed,” says Randy Mitchell, vice president of technical services for Perdue Farms, Inc.
But meat producers have had a tough year due, in part, to high commodity prices driven upward by the drought. Some have moved away from using soybean meal in animal feed in favor of dried distillers grains with solubles, canola meal and peanut meal.
Recent feed trends favor amino acid makeup over crude protein levels, which could reverse the use of soy substitutions in animal diets.
“Many feed nutritionists use amino acid composition to determine the best feed rather than crude protein levels,” says Mitchell. “This is really good for soy because it has a better amino acid composition than a lot of its potential feed substitutes.”
Mitchell says the U.S. soy industry should maintain its processing standards and continue producing high-protein soybeans to maintain the value of soy and its market share in poultry feeds.