Although Messrs. Anderson, Koch, Edwardson, Frye, et al firmly believed the concept of procuring the co-products necessary to manufacture a nutrient-dense, commercially viable feed product was possible, nothing is certain until the idea is tested at the ultimate proving ground . . . the feed bunk.
“Our beef trials have been very promising,” says Anderson. “When fed as a primary ration rather than a supplement, we are reporting performance equal to or better, compared to conventional rations. This is significant because in some cases we have reduced the amount of corn in the ration from a range of 60% to 0%, and lost no performance.
“In years when corn is in short supply or at high costs, to achieve that level of performance could offer feed manufacturers enormous flexibility in mixing without compromising nutrient value,” Anderson adds.
For Kim Koch, his work has revealed that while the end product can take several different forms, a pelleted end product holds clear advantages.
“Looking at co-products like malt barley sprouts and DDGs with peas creates a product that has flexibility to satisfy needs for ranchers looking for a range cake type pellet or a smaller 1/4- to 3/8-inch pelleted feed,” says Koch. “In my opinion, the key takeaway from research thus far is the importance to stay nimble and flexible when designing the feed. The success will be in meeting the end-user need with a product that performs to the end-user’s specifications both nutritionally and within their management system.”
For a dose of real world expertise, enter Dave Polries, president of Dakota Dry Bean, Grand Forks, ND.
“For me, I’m constantly looking three to five years out for ways to grow, modernize or otherwise improve my business,” Polries states. “Since I deal with many co-products, especially those derived from pea processing, what the group was proposing fit my business model very well.
“By creating a feedstock out of a variety of parts which may have little perceived value, feed makers can capture value and pass it on to their customers with a product whose sum is truly greater than its parts,” Polries points out.
For Polries’ part, he serves on the CDFI’s executive committee and is leading the effort to manufacture and commercialize the feed product. He echoes Koch’s sentiments about being flexible enough to meet customers’ needs, while delivering a top performing product.
“The potential really excites me or I wouldn’t have jumped onboard,” he says. “It could be a huge boon to those who have struggled to find a home for co-products and screenings, and other byproducts.
“In my eyes, the advantages of delivering a ration that’s premixed, pelleted easier to handle, has less waste and is easy to transport, would be desirable by anyone who raises livestock, whether they are located in the Northern Plains, out West or in the Pacific Rim,” Polries states.
Wait and see
While marketing and production of an end product is still far off in the horizon — expected launch date could arrive in the second half of 2010 — the CDFI remains an effort worth watching.
If anything, the CDFI has stamped a template on how to build a coalition of public, private and government stakeholders to rally around a central idea, without bogging down the process in political turf wars. If they can defy the odds and stay true to that model and bring a branded, novel-feed product to the marketplace, will others be far behind?
For researchers like Dr. Anderson, it could also represent a noticeable increase in invitations to noodle around an idea or two over a libation. Talk about value-added research!