Enzymes used to improve the ability of the pig to digest phosphorus have allowed pork producers to reduce the amount of phosphorus added to the diet cutting production costs and environmental impacts.
Legislation set to take effect in Manitoba this fall will restrict the amount of phosphorous that can be applied to the soil from livestock production.
The Canadian International Grains Institute and the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative are developing a survey to determine what strategies feed companies are using to manage phosphorus.
Dr. Rex Newkirk, the vice-president of research and innovation with CIGI, says a key challenge is that a lot of the phosphorus found in plants is in a form the pig is unable to utilize.
Each ingredient has different levels of what we call this phytate phosphorus.
Canola for example, canola meal, there’s lots and lots of phosphorus in there and it’s really valuable from that perspective but 75 to 80 percent of that phosphorus is in the form of phytate so we’re only looking at maybe 25 to 30 percent availability if you don’t add the enzyme.
Other ingredients would have lesser amounts.
For example your cereals, they would probably be a third as much phosphorus but again still only about 25 to 30 percent of that is directly available to the animal and the rest could become phosphorus in the manure.
The addition of this enzyme has been a tremendous tool.
20 years ago when we were doing research on this, we thought there might be pollution issues coming up in the future.
Many disagreed with us and thought phosphorus would never be important but now the enzyme is not only important to reduce phosphorus pollution but it also offsets the cost if your adding phosphorus to the diet because now phosphorus is a very expensive part of the diet as well.
Dr. Newkirk says survey participants will be asked about their formulation practices, including levels of phosphorus and availability assumed for each ingredient, how much and what kind of enzyme is being used and how much of an increase in phosphorus availability is being assumed when that enzyme is added.