Technical and Economic Performance of Alternative Feeds in Dairy and Pig Production
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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A major cost component in livestock production is feed, which suggests improved feed efficiency as a promising strategy to improve both competitiveness and environmental sustainability. This study has investigated the technical and economic efficiency of using two alternatives to the standard feeds in livestock production in Norway. Data was generated from two controlled feeding experiments involving dairy cows and finishing pigs. In the dairy cow experiment, grass silage optimal in protein content was compared to silage lower in protein content in rations to moderately yielding cows. In the pig experiment, imported soybean meal was compared to rapeseed meal in diets to finishing pigs. From Data Envelopment Analysis, we did not find significant within group as well as between group differences in technical efficiency of animals under different feeding strategies. Under the assumptions of the study, however, a feeding regime based on low protein silage was found to be cheaper (–9% to –10%) for moderately yielding dairy cows, suggesting that Norwegian milk production could be based on the low protein silage fed ad libitum. On the other hand, despite reducing feed costs, a feeding regime based on rapeseed meal was less profitable, although statistically insignificant, than soybean meal for finishing pig production. Therefore, the nutritional value must improve and/or the price of rapeseed meal drop before it becomes an economically acceptable replacement to soybean meal.