Meeting animal ag’s nutritional needs drives soybean meal demand. Plenty of feed options exist for those who work in the animal ag sector to choose from, but few can match the complete package of U.S. soybean meal.

We talked with Roy Brister, director of nutrition and feed milling with Tyson Foods, about the importance of soybean meal to poultry diets and how it affects U.S. soybean meal demand.

Q: Why do you pick U.S. soybean meal as a part of animal diets?

A: Soybean meal is the most complete protein source available to the industry today. It contains a desirable ratio of essential amino acids and energy values not found in other feedstocks. It’s the whole package.

Q: Why does soybean meal composition matter?

A: We have animals’ nutritional requirements to meet. The higher the protein content and the more complete the amino acid profile, the better the economics when mixed with other ingredients.

Q: What can a crusher do to deliver a better product for animal ag?

A: Provide a product with higher protein, lower fiber and lower moisture levels. I think in the future, particle/grind size might be important, too.

Q: Soybean meal faces competition from alternative feed ingredients and other countries producing more and more soybeans each year. What can the industry do now to protect U.S. soy’s share of the animal feed market?

A: While I don’t think U. S. soybean meal will be easily displaced, it is a great product that could be better with a few modifications that would bring more value to farmers and feeders alike.

Those modifications include doing more research into the amino acid profile of soybean meal. Providing nutritionists with a better amino acid profile in soybean meal – by gathering samples and conducting several assessments – would give soybean meal even more of a competitive advantage.

Q: What factors do you consider when choosing ingredients for animal rations?

A: Availability is No. 1, and that’s what is great about soybean meal. I need to know that my ingredients are readily available. I also consider the cost of the energy source and the balance of amino acids. Soybean meal’s amino acid profile is a great complement to corn in animal diets.

Q: How does animal ag affect U.S. soybean meal demand?

A: Soybean meal is the primary source of protein in poultry and swine diets in the U.S., making animal ag the No. 1 customer for soybean meal. So, the healthier the animal ag sector is – considering profitability and protein produced – the better off U.S. soybean meal demand will be.