Soybean, a popular legume in Asian cuisine, has today managed to captivate the interest of several sectors, including food and fuel. While its incredibly high protein content has undoubtedly helped drive increased consumption across the globe, the growing fondness for non-dairy and vegan lifestyles has given the push to make this pea species a popular plant in the human diet these days.
But what’s even more intriguing about soy is its relevance to livestock diet. Animal feeders especially find several advantages to utilizing soy feed for their beloved farms, which continues to encourage almost 77% of the worldwide produce to be consumed by this industry. Studies suggest that the popularity of soybean as a forage choice for livestock has been in trend since the 1800s. But what exactly is making soy so suitable for livestock? Let us explore five critical reasons here.
It Is an Excellent Source of Essential Nutrition
Soybeans are an excellent source of protein for cattle, making the many versatile soy products an ideal choice to keep animals healthy as it consist of high quantity of animal protein in it. Whole soybeans exhibit about 40% protein on a dry basis and 20% fat. The crude protein level is significantly higher than popular alternatives like sunflower and rapeseed meals. They can also offer the appropriate energy for animals.
Soybean is also a rich source of essential amino acids, enabling increased protein digestibility in poultry and farm animals. It is a necessary characteristic as it can widely affect the quality of animal products such as eggs and milk. Additionally, soybean is high in potassium concentration, which influences a perfect dietary electrolyte balance.
It Is Usable in Many Forms
One of the best qualities of the legume for animals is how versatile soy products are applicable for cattle feed. While whole soybean seeds are nutritionally rich and ideal for animal feed, damaged, discolored, or broken seeds also offer competent dietary support to cattle and poultry. Both raw soybeans before undergoing heat treatment as well as roasted beans are easy to incorporate into dairy rations. Each offers high levels of undegraded protein and lysine to support lactating cows, hens, and other animals.
Another widespread use of soy in the animal diet is through soy meal or cake. Soybean cake is a coarse, granular chunk left after multiple stages of oil extraction. A large portion of the protein of soybeans makes its way into this cake, making it a popular choice in agriculture. On the other hand, soy meal comes from the chemical separation of oil from the beans. It also contains an abundance of fiber and expresses longer shelf life, making it a preferred choice for animal nutrition.
It Promises Increased Digestibility and Better Gut Health
Soybeans are certainly planted protein superstars. But alternatives to soybean meal also provide competent levels of protein to livestock. So, what makes it so unique? Well, its high bioavailability.
When utilizing alternatives to soybean meals, the most critical factor to keep in mind is formulating the feed to express highly digestible amino acids. But with soybean meal, the perfect ratio of amino acids naturally present in the legume works efficiently to provide enhanced feed nutrition availability.
Higher protein digestibility at about 85% in the case of soybean ensures that there are fewer protein leftovers at the end of the digestive process. Combined with rich fiber levels, this can reduce the risk of intestinal health problems in animals. It also supports better gut health and improved milk and eggs productions.
It Supports Improved Product Quality
The quality of animal products from livestock is highly influenced by diet. Soybean consumption gives excellent benefits here to ensure better value for these products.
For dairy cattle, the perfect nutritional composition increases the absorption of essential elements, contributes to high milk production, improves tolerance to extreme temperatures, and better the growth of heifers. Additional benefits of the rich oil concentration in the meal are a better survival rate of young calves in extreme conditions, better weight gain, and an increased sow conception rate in smaller durations.
For poultry, soybean can introduce desirable carcass characteristics and encourage better egg mass, nutrition, and production rate. It shows improved palatability through a cleaner, denser, healthier feed for your favorite animals.
It Is Economical
Compared to animal protein such as fish, soybean offers an economical feed choice for livestock without compromising the nutritional requirements of the animals. As various forms of soy, some even after processing, are usable as feed for livestock, countries with native soybean cultivation especially can offer soy meal at lower prices.
Additionally, products like soybean meal offer extended shelf life to enable bulk purchases for larger farms. With a significant increase in soy production globally, it is the cheapest form of crude protein and healthy fats available to poultry and farm animals today.
Soybean is a nutritious legume rapidly making its way into the human diet in several forms. Due to its high nutritional value and multiple applications leading to increased availability, soy feed is also becoming the go-to choice for livestock feed. With more efforts on sustainable soy cultivation, the demands of the livestock industry can be healthily met using soy feed.