With the ever growing population of chickens in the U.S. comes the need for high-quality feed.  According to an article on United Soybean Board, broiler chicken production has grown over the years in the U.S.  The number of chicken broiler productions has increased more than 15 percent.  More chickens mean more opportunities for soybean farmers, but only if soybean farmers produce high-quality feed that is chosen by animal Ag.

Chicken is America’s favorite source of protein and soybean meal is a broiler chicken’s favorite protein source to eat.  Broilers make up 35 percent of domestic soybean meal consumption. Chickens love soybean meal because the amino acid balances well with corn and makes it easy to digest.

Poultry and livestock farmers depend on high levels of protein, amino acids and digestible energy to increase their animals’ potential.  One way soybean farmers can help meet the customers’ needs is if they plant a variety that will produce high-quality soybeans and deliver high yields. 

Before farmers can plant soybeans and feed the soybean meal to their broiler chickens they need to take into consideration factors that might impact meal demand and soybean profitability

1.       Dietary Energy

Soybean meal has a low dietary energy for poultry compared with other high protein substitutes.  Many carbohydrates in soybean meal are not easily digested by chickens.  Half of the free sugars in soybean meal are in forms that are indigestible to poultry.

2.       Collaboration

The United Soybean Board’s (USB) Animal Nutrition Working Group, a group of animal nutritionists advise USB on how to increase soybean meal utilization through improved nutrition, have identified these varieties as a major opportunity to improve meal value in poultry.  The group is working with plant breeders and poultry researchers to come up with the best way to utilize this technology to bring more value to poultry producers and soybean farmers.

3.       Processing

The processing method is the next factor.  The most common method is solvent extraction and the least common is mechanical extraction.  The meal products that come from these methods are different in nutritive value.  Solvent extracted meal is higher in protein and lower in residual oil than meal that goes through mechanical extraction.  Whether the soybeans are dehulled or the hulls are left in the meal also has a big influence on protein and energy values. 

4.       Proper Heat Treatment

The key to the amino acid digestibility for soybean meal is getting the proper amount of heat treatment.  Soybeans have anti-nutritive proteins, called trypsin inhibitors that impair the digestion of protein.  Heat treating soybean meal after oil extraction deactivates these proteins.  Soybean processors that use solvent extraction have figured out the correct time and temperature combination to minimize problems with trypsin inhibitors while maintaining amino acid digestibility.  Heat treatment used in mechanically extracted meal is more variable and higher trypsin inhibitor content is common, so extra attention is allowed when using this type of meal. 

It’s important to ask your seed dealer about which variety of seed to use that will be high in protein and oil and not sacrifice yield and mainly utilize the factors noted above. 

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