Targeting the pig sector of north-west Germany, Agravis is collaborating with two cooperatives near Münster, in a joint venture, Raiffeisen Fluessigfutter GmbH (RFG), to produce a liquid input for the diets of piglets and finishing pigs.
The liquid feed, Pig SLK, is a mixture of potato peelings, whey concentrate, wheat stillage and water plus chocolate for taste and as an energy releaser.
Juergen Wortmann, who is one of the managing directors of RFG as well as division manager of feed specialties at Agravis, told this publication:
“Our objective was to develop a less costly feed for pig producers in the region around Luedinghausen that would also support the digestive health of their herd, and would avoid the farmers, already under margin pressures, having to mix it themselves.
Producers can save around €4 per finishing pig by using Pig SLK to complement other inputs, so in a herd size of 1,000 pigs, the savings accrued would be about €4K.
A complete pig feed would then contain 25% of our liquid feed, in tandem with 50% grain, 10% wheat bran and the remainder made up of soybean or rapeseed.”
Ahead of the production phase, Agravis conducted trials on the liquid feed with pig farmers in that part of Germany.
“We conducted research over the past two and half years, and producers were extremely pleased with the results in terms of animal health.
The feed conversion and growth rates of this product are similar to dry feeds but its lower pH is easier on the pigs’ stomachs and the build-up of lactic acid in the vats yields a feed that promotes good colon health.
The lactic acid level also makes the feed suitable for storage for at least two weeks and gives it a homogenous consistency until it reaches the trough,” said Wortmann.
The liquid product is produced at RFG’s new mill in Luedinghausen, operational since June, and is distributed to small scale farmers within a radius of about 100km by the local cooperatives.
“This is a regional feeding system. It contains a lot of water so it wouldn’t be economically viable to transport it long distances,” said the feed specialist.
The new production site, in which Agravis has invested a “small, seven-digit amount”, is adjacent to the Dortmund-Ems Canal.
“The location is strategic as it allows us source food sector by-products, whey, stillage and potatoes, via shipping vessels from processors in several markets - the Netherlands, France and Belgium – at low cost and in sufficient enough quantities to guarantee a consistent ingredient profile for our feed over several months,” said Wortmann.
The RFG feed mill currently has capacity of 30,000 tons but the JV has plans to ratchet production of the liquid product up to 100,000 tons in two years’ time.
“There is major consolidation occurring in the pig industry in this part of Germany, with herd sizes set to grow as a result from an average of 1,500 pigs per herd to 5,000 in the next few years. We intend to capitalize on that growth,” said the MD.
There are plans afoot, he added, to deliver a similar liquid-based feeding system in other pig producing regions within Germany. "We are also looking to extend it to sows but that is a few years off yet," said Wortmann.