In Minnesota, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people are employed by the dairy, swine, poultry, sheep, beef and alternative livestock industries. These industries also contribute more than $54 billion each year to the state’s economy. Their contributions reach far beyond agriculture to affect businesses and jobs on Main Street.
AURI works closely with commodity partners to help strengthen the entire agriculture industry, including that of animal agriculture. Minnesota’s livestock industry has faced challenging economic conditions in recent years as input costs have risen more rapidly than the prices they get in return.
“Animal agriculture is tremendously important to Minnesota,” says Denny Timmerman, AURI project development director. “It’s vital to all sectors of agriculture to keep all types of livestock going strong because they consume millions of bushels of grain, provide jobs and generate valuable fertilizer.”
An emphasis that AURI has is to combat high input costs is in the identification of alternative feed ingredients. These alternatives may reduce the cost producers pay or they may result in increased animal performance. Most of these alternatives are either agricultural processing leftovers or are commodity ingredients processed in a novel way.
AURI has participated in a number of collaborative projects with the University of Minnesota aimed at utilizing lower cost ingredients to benefit the livestock industry. Among the projects are:
Glycerol. This biodiesel manufacturing coproduct is being tested in dairy calf diets. Glycerol could potentially replace up to 6% of the corn in pre- and post-weaned dairy heifers.
Low oligosaccharide soybean meal. Low-O meal is being evaluated as an ingredient in baby pig diets as well as for turkeys. Initial results have shown significant improvement in average daily gain because of improved digestibility.
High bypass protein soybean meal. This specialty meal is processed in a way that allows for greater absorption by dairy cattle. This improved digestibility results in increased milk production. Benchmark Ag of Cannon Falls is proceeding with plans to construct a facility to produce the specialized meal for dairy markets in Southeast Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.
Ongoing work is occurring to help strengthen the vital livestock industry in whatever way is possible, including identifying ways to reduce input costs and utilize leftovers from other agricultural industries.