17 May 1996

Watch top limits with meal replacers…

REPLACING meat and bonemeal in home mill-and-mix pig rations is not simply a case of substituting equal quantities of an alternative protein source.

So says Dr Caroline Bevan, nutritionist for Shropshire-based feed consultants Banbury Agriculture.

Most alternative sources have recommended upper limits for inclusion and as long as limits were adhered to, few problems should arise, she says. But buying an alternative on price alone could have hidden health risks.

"Soya used in large quantities can cause colitis and most diets contain the maximum amount available already. Some other vegetable proteins have a lower digestibility and are, therefore, unsuitable for younger pigs," says Dr Bevan.

She also points out that unlike meat and bonemeal, these sources may be unavailable in bags. Producers would have to find extra bin capacity to cope with buying a new source in bulk.

"Difficulties with storing and handling animal protein sources such as poultry offal and blood, means that these sources need to be purchased as a blended meal. Some blood meals and feather meals are treated at very high temperatures which makes the protein less digestible, and the exact constituents of these blends must always be checked before purchase," says Dr Bevan.

"Producers should also bear in mind that though these animal-based products are currently acceptable, MAFF may change policy in the future and producers could be left with unwanted stocks," she says.

"Synthetic amino acids and phosphates as protein sources allow detailed formulation but prices for these and all other sources have risen since the meat and bonemeal ban.

"This price rise, and uncertainty over the US soya harvest, makes accurate cost comparisons before and after the ban difficult."

"For a pig grower diet the extra cost depends on the amount of meat and bonemeal to be replaced, the diets specification and what other raw materials are available. It is likely that using synthetic amino acids will add up to about £2.40/t to diets. For the same diet, fishmeal could add up to £7, fish blends which include fish/poultry meal and phosphates up to £4, and poultry offal blends which contain poultry offal, blood, vegetable protein and phosphates up to £3.60."

she says.

Meat and bonemeal alternative for pigs


Synthetic amino acids

Blood meal

Poultry offal meal



Lupin seed



Adhere to upper limits of inclusion when using alternatives to meat and bone meal in pig rations.