Farmers are constantly under pressure to cut feed costs. Farmers in Northern Europe are currently struggling with a drought, grain prices are on the way up, roughage is hard to come by and the instinct is to cut back on feed additives to save costs. However counterintuitive it may seem, doing this may impact profitability more heavily than realized.
The impact of the unusually hot summer and low rainfall particularly in most of Northern and Western Europe has impacted crop outputs for 2018 negatively1. With some farmers reporting outputs of less than half of what was expected, planting of winter crops are also being hampered by the hot and dry conditions. This is leading to expectations of further decline in yields as recently published in the MARS crop monitoring Bulletin in Europe for June and July, which in turn has led to recommendations by the JRC to the European commission to further support European farmers2.
These conditions are driving crop prices up with the expectation that feed prices will rise in the coming months. Additionally there will be a shortage of high quality roughage for silage due to the exceptionally dry pasture conditions in the region3.
Do not cut corners on nutrient uptake
Although it may seem counterintuitive, cutting back on feed additives to save costs may end up exacerbating the situation. Feed additives support the physiological functioning and health of the animal and as such support the uptake of nutrients from feed. Beyond essential additives like vitamins, minerals and amino acids, there is a large range of feed additives that support feed digestibility, intestinal integrity and ultimately feed conversion ratio and performance.
By removing or reducing additives, like organic acids, protein digestibility could be reduced. This is because one of their functions is to reduce pH in the stomach which helps maintain the low pH required for endogenic enzymes such as pepsin to function optimally to breakdown protein. Other additives like ProPhorce™ SR support intestinal integrity and immunity which help keep the animal healthy and removing these would put the animal under unnecessary pressure.
Impact on the bottom line
In essence removing feed additives could reduce the animal’s ability to optimally utilize what limited feed there is available and this will ultimately impact the farmer’s bottom line. Either due to a suboptimal utilization of feed, which would increase the amount of feed required to achieve desired performance targets, or due to suboptimal performance that would reduce the farmer’s income. So however counterintuitive it may seem, feed additives save you money in times of high feed prices or feed shortage.