In a world of farming and ranching that is increasingly shifting to natural, more efficient, bio-based approaches for elite-level animal care and performance, innovations in feed and nutrition are quickly rising to the forefront as a top "game-changing" factor for 2017 and beyond.
A group with a unique vantage point on this growing trend, including the big picture of where the world of feed has come from and where it is headed, is the team at Country Junction Feeds, based in Wetaskiwin, Alb., which serves customers across Alberta, Canada and into the U.S., specializing in quality bulk and bagged feeds for beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, goat, lamb, certified organic feeds and more.
“Advances in feed and nutrition approaches have always moved at a steady rate, but today, both the pace of innovation and the interest in this area is spiking much higher than ever before,” said Darrell Kimmel, manager of Country Junction Feeds. “The bottom line for farmers and ranchers is more choice, better options and more opportunities to get more value out of feed to greatly strengthen their results.”
A wave of emerging trends, industry developments and new science-based knowledge and tools have all come together at the same time, toward a much stronger emphasis on feed and nutrition as a top area of opportunity, added Bernie Grumpelt, ruminant nutritionist for Country Junction Feeds.
“We’re entering a new era, with a new mindset about how best to support the performance of farm animals, whether they are food production animals or working farm animals,” Grumpelt said. “Artificial inputs, over-reliance on antimicrobials — these types of approaches are on the way out. There’s a lot more focus on high quality diets, top quality feed and the use of improved nutrition strategies and supplements to get the most feed value and benefits possible, while reducing waste and environmental impact.”
Today’s best approaches also have strong components to support optimal animal well-being and comfort throughout a variety of situations, including elements that support fast recovery from energy depletion and protection from the negative impacts of stress, Grumpelt said. Many of these shifts have been coming for a while now and that has driven a lot more science and innovation to support evolving farming and ranching industries. “Whether the priority is animal health, productivity, efficiency or animal care, the future is all about a much stronger focus on feed.”
Feed has always been a pivotal factor because it represents the number one cost of raising and caring for farm animals, noted David Gibson, Canadian sales manager with Country Junction Feeds. It is also arguably the number-one factor affecting animal performance, but today the power of feed-based improvement has never been greater.
“As a farmer or rancher, taking a closer look at your feed and nutrition approaches for your animals is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to make quick, big improvements,” Gibson said. “Feed impacts everything. Today we have more knowledge and options to maximize the benefits. Every year now there are new and improved options coming on stream that are worth taking the time to consider. An investment in the right feed approach can be the best investment you make for your operation. Getting the right advice is also critical — nutrition expertise, experience and local knowledge all comes in to play to find the right fit for your farm.”
Top feed mills have also raised the bar with advanced biosecurity measures and quality control protocols, along with the adoption of new leading edge nutritional, manufacturing and production technology, to ensure consistent top quality formulations and product — all produced and delivered quickly and efficiently.
Natural, feed-based approaches to strengthen performance are also an excellent fit with what is most accepted and preferred in the marketplace today, Gibson said. “With development on the horizon such as new rules restricting antimicrobial use, there has never been a better time to update nutrition strategies and take advantage of the new options.”