Liquid Feed: the positives, the challenges and how we can help

2 November 2020

Liquid feed has become a popular feeding system particularly for pigs, yet preserving and maintaining shelf life can be quite the challenge and requires nutritional and microbial knowledge. Managed well it can provide liquid feed to a large number of animals, and is also interesting from a labour perspective on larger farms. It is also a sustainable source of feed for your animals as it up-cycles food that is no longer suitable for human consumption but still contains high levels of energy, protein and fats.  

Liquid feeding requires computer-controlled feed production which mixes dry products with either ethanol, brewing or food industry liquid by-products (which is interesting from a sustainability perspective), or water. It then uses a pipe system to deliver the feed to the pigs.

Reusing by-products enables farmers to produce high-quality protein in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. In a world of increasing scarcity of natural resources it positively utilises the principle of the circular economy.

The challenge with liquid feed is that moulds, yeasts, lactic acid bacteria and enterobacteria all thrive in moisture-rich feed. When fermentation is uncontrolled it often results in increased populations of E.Coli, Salmonella, yeasts and other pathogens. They reduce the dry matter content of the feed and increase the breakdown of amino acids. All these themselves benefit from the key nutrients in the feed therefore making them unavailable for the animals and the result is a poorer performance.

It is important to promote the right fermentation. High numbers of yeast can increase pH instead of it decreasing and this creates further microbial challenges. It is therefore crucial to control the feed hygiene especially in yeast. Yeasts can promote dry matter losses of up to 20%.

High yeast levels also have a direct impact on the health of the animals. High yeast containing feed can pass the stomach and reach the intestine. At the intestinal level the yeast continues to ferment and the impact of that can be colonic moulting resulting in pig mortality.

Trouw Nutrition carries out over 1200 samples per year on various by-products. There is variability in the microbial quality of the by-products as the data below shows. This is an average of the 1200 samples per year:

By using the Selko Revalet range, which is made of a synergistic blend of organic acids and surfactants, you can control yeasts, moulds and enteros. This will both extend shelf life and maintain dry matter content and therefore nutritional values at low dosages.