The U.S. broiler industry consumes over 12.7 million tons of U.S. soybean meal, or more than 45 percent of the total domestic soybean meal usage. This represents the soybean meal from about 590 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, according to Bill Roenigk, senior vice president of the National Chicken Council (NCC), who addressed USB farmer-directors at the recent United Soybean Board meeting in Milwaukee.
However, the broiler sector continues to evolve its feed needs. More and more distillers’ dried grains continue to replace soybean meal in some broiler diets. “All vegetable” feed rations represent another feed trend for broilers. This means soybean oil, as well as soybean meal, can replace animal fats and oils in broiler diets. More than 8 percent of chicken in supermarkets can be labeled “vegetarian fed,” which is the most of any meat.
Chicken remains popular with consumers, with a projected per capita consumption of more than 85 pounds per person. Exports remain a vital part of the broiler sector, with broiler exports projected at more than 6.5 billion pounds in 2012.
Roenigk told USB farmer-leaders that the broiler sector faces severe financial stress, with many poultry companies losing money. While demand for chicken remains solid, additional challenges, like increased feed costs, have causedeconomic anxiety.
USB supports its No.1 customer for soybean meal in a number of ways. USB helps support the broiler sector by contributing to the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council as well as organizations like the Center for Food Integrity and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, which support animal agriculture.
Roenigk mentioned several opportunities for the U.S. soybean industry, including trait enhancements to increase energy, protein and amino acids and improve natural disease prevention in chickens. He also mentioned that soybean meal with increased omega-3 fatty acids has an opportunity in broiler feeds. In addition, soybean by-products may be able to replace wood shavings for poultry litter.