Posted on December 12, 2018 by admin
A new landscape is emerging for 2019 as the animal feed and nutrition industry, and the farming and ranching community it serves, increasingly shifts to natural, more efficient, bio-based approaches for elite level animal care and performance.
A group with a front row seat to not only observing but driving many of the latest innovations in feed and nutrition is the team at Country Junction Feeds, based in Wetaskiwin Alberta. Today Country Junction Feeds facilities are fully antibiotic-free, ionophore-free and provide a full range of both conventional and certified organic feed options to an expanding customer base across Canada and the U.S..
Country Junction Feeds specializes in quality bulk and bagged feeds for beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, goat, lamb and more. All feeding programs are developed through alignment with the latest advancements as well as a wealth of experience and local knowledge. In recent years the feedmill has also invested in a range of mill and production line upgrades including new state-of-the-art formulation and bagging systems.
In the following Q&A, nutritionist Dr. Nancy Fischer talks about key trends to watch in feed and nutriton for the coming year:
What are a few of the top issues or trends expected to continue making waves in 2019?
One of the top issues is a continued shift away from medication use in feed. The animal feed industry will need to continue to adapt to consumer demands in this area by looking at available options to make this transition without sacrificing productivity and animal welfare.
Related to this is the second issue - the need to focus on gut health. We are learning more all the time about the critical nature of gut health and its influence on animal performance, health and welfare. A healthy gut is recognized in today’s livestock systems as the gateway to the best results possible.
The third main issue, which ties in with the previous two, is the need to reduce animal stress. We know that animal welfare is important. The negative aspects of stress can have an impact on welfare and health. They also impact economics. We are learning more as an industry about the hidden costs of stress. The good news is that we now have an opportunity for improvement. We are developing options such as nutritional therapy supplements that have beneficial effects. This is a very positive area of innovation. The major focus for these supplements is protecting the animals from the damaging effects of stress experienced in situations such as transport, handling, regrouping, parturition, weaning, and high performance systems.
What are some of the main challenges feed manufacturers / nutritionsists will face in the next 12 months?
Probably our biggest challenge is continuing to think proactively, even as the industry undergoes a major period of evolution. We have a lot of challenges. The demands and requirements are diverse. We need to be on top of our game.
When it comes to feed and nutrition, success will depend on utilizing the best knowledge, technology and ingredients to optimize results. The good news is we have better capacity in each of these areas to get the job done. There are opportunities for refinements in formulation. There are opportunities to tailor our solutions to address the evolving needs of each unique customer.
For us it always comes back to the specific customers we are supporting. Livestock producers have a lot on their plates. They have a lot of requirements and demands to deal with. They need the right feed, in the right program, to get the best results. We view ourselves as an extension of their team to help their animals and their operations achieve their full potential.
There are more details and considerations involved today. But we also have greater capability to get it right. The payoff is that much higher because of the growing importance of feed and nutrition as factors in management, economics and marketing – everything that contributes to the ultimate success of the operations.
Which consumer trends will have the greatest impact on animal feed production in 2019? What about five years from now?
Transparency stands out as the big one. There has been a lot of talk about consumers taking a greater interest in where their food comes from and how this is driving a lot of trends related to transparency, quality assurance and consumer values such as animal welfare. We expect this will continue in 2019 and build further momentum over the next five years and beyond.
This is simply the new normal. Society and consumers are having more influence and they have questions and expectations they want answers to and assurances about. As an industry we need to be prepared to address those questions and expectations.
One of the biggest consume trends is the desire (right or wrong) to reduce the use of medicated feed. Consumer questions and perceptions around the use of medicated feed are driving change. We know antimicrobial stewardship and limiting use of antimicrobials is critical for our industry. At the same time as we evolve we need to balance that with continuing to uphold animal health and welfare. Change can be difficult but it also means opportunity. It’s a good time for many to take a fresh look at the options available and update their strategies with integrated approaches that check all the boxes for what’s needed today.
(Bonus: See some of Fischer's insights featured in the cover story of the latest Feed Strategy magazine from WATTAgNet: "6 top global animal feed trends to watch in 2019.")