MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. – Kansas State University (KSU) researchers discovered that soybean meal, a feed ingredient in swine diets, can provide higher levels of energy to growing pigs.

Their work included feeding more than 2,200 mixed-gender nursery pigs with varying amounts of soybean meal for 21 days, then comparing their findings to the energy commonly provided in corn diets.

“For a long time, soybean meal has been thought to provide about 78% (of) the energy value as corn,” said Bob Goodband, a swine nutritionist with KSU Research and Extension. “So it hasn’t been thought of as a significant source of energy. What we found was that feeding increasing amounts of soybean meal increases the net energy value to approximately 105% and 121% of the energy provided by corn.”

Goodband notes that soybean meal is the primary plant protein source for swine diets in the United States. Soybean meal is a good source of amino acids, which are important for building protein and muscle growth in swine.

By changing the amount of soybean meal in swine diets, the KSU researchers were trying to find the energy value of soybean meal measured by its improvement in feed efficiency for those animals.

“Our findings will allow nutritionists to have a better understanding of the energy content of the complete diet, and therefore make the appropriate adjustments to the other nutrients in the diet,” Goodband said. “This will hopefully be a potential benefit for producers by making pigs more efficient. Now that we know exactly how much energy is in soybean meal, we can adjust our diets accordingly and hopefully see improvements in gain and efficiency.”

As with all new management techniques, KSU said producers interested in adjusting their feed strategies should consult with a nutritionist or contact their local KSU Research and Extension agent for assistance.

The findings related to soybean meal will be presented during the annual KSU Swine Day, in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., on Nov. 21. Registration for that event costs $25 through Nov. 12, $50 afterward. Students can attend Swine Day for free if they pre-register.

For information or to pre-register, visit the website for the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry.