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Cargill says its ‘big data’ model shows where ‘feed regimen tweaks are needed’

By Jane Byrne

18-May-2015
Last updated on 19-May-2015 at 10:30 GMT2015-05-19T10:30:45Z

Cargill said it has been helping integrated pork producers meet productivity gains and has fined tuned a feed mill’s phytase use though leveraging its system of mathematical modelling and ‘big data’.

We caught up with Jason Shelton, global technology director at the agribusiness giant, to hear about the R&D capabilities of its Cargill Nutrition System (CNS).

The CNS, he said, crunches data from a constant flow of ingredient samples collected from commodity feedstuffs around the world, telling producers where nutrient content falls short and when feed regimen tweaks are needed.

“As well as building up a huge amount of knowledge on ingredients, the database also includes animal nutrition requirements,” he said.

The CNS can help with formulation based on a customer’s system or Cargill’s MAX formulation software.

“It is also updated twice a year taking into account feedback from our teams in the field on how the system should be modified - there is huge value in that given the key learnings those teams accrue from working directly with livestock producers,” said Shelton.

Cargill has been using the system, which comprises two million nutrient samples covering more than 1,800 ingredients, and 10 million annual nutrient predictions, on the complete feed side for a few years but extended it out to the premix business a few months ago.

Phytase expertise

Shelton said it now has a lot of data on hand on how different phytases work.

“Working with a feed mill in Europe of late, we found the team there was not measuring the phytate in the product correctly in order to determine the correct dosage of supplementary phytase needed.

We addressed that, based on CNS formulation data, and the poultry farms that feed mill supplies are now seeing consistency in bird growth rates as a result. The mill is also realizing cost savings due to the greater precision in phytase use,” said Shelton.

The technology specialist also outlined the support it has been giving to three different integrated pork producers in South America, all with contrasting needs.

“One integrator requested help in increasing their efficiency, another producer was more interested in improving the value of raw material through enhancing ingredient digestibility and the third wanted to produce leaner meat along with higher yields. We used the MAX system to develop new lines of feed that would meet those requirements.

While not changing the overall composition of the feeds, which were essentially soy and corn based diets, we modified some of the by-products used, so as to amend the amino acid and nutrient content.

It is still too early to see the long term results as we only completed the formulation work two months ago but the project really showed the fluidity of the CNS is meeting different producers’ requirements,” said Shelton.

Crude protein levels in poultry feed

Cargill has said it has been actively trying to change the mindset of Indonesia poultry producers by getting them to vary the amount of crude protein (CP) and also adjust the amino acid and fiber levels in their feeds. 

“Overfeeding of CP produces too much protein in the hind gut of the bird, resulting in wet litter. Tapping into the data of the global CNS is helping the Cargill team in the field address this challenge for Indonesian producers - there have been fewer issues of wet litter in that market of late and better feed cost per unit of production,” he said.

The agribusiness company has also been examining soybean meal, wheat and barley nutrient content in Poland.

Cargill said the research done there, again relying on its ‘big data’ tool, is helping producers make more informed decisions on when to bring pigs to market, sometimes recommending longer feeding durations to enhance animal performance and to generate better price multiples.

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