Rice: an alternative feed to reduce the production costs of pigs and poultry

Rice can replace maize in animal feed, with nutritional quality, and reduce feed cost.

February 9, 2022

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4 minute read

Studies carried out by Embrapa Suínos e Aves (SC) show that from a nutritional point of view, rice can complement or replace corn in animal feed. The finding could be great news for Brazilian pig and poultry farmers facing high prices resulting from the growing appreciation of corn and soybeans. At the same time, the oversupply of rice on the national market, with a surplus of 600 to 800 thousand tons in the 2020/2021 harvest, strengthens the viability of the grain to make pig and poultry feed cheaper, which currently represents approximately 70% of 80% of the production cost of the two activities.

“The Embrapa has already shown that husked rice (brown rice), from a nutritional point of view, is perfectly suited to complement or replace corn in animal feed”, explains Embrapa researcher Suínos e Aves Jorge Vitor Ludke.

For three years now, corn and soy have influenced the performance of pigs and poultry, according to data from the Swine and Poultry Intelligence Center ( CIAS ) of Embrapa Suínos e Aves, which monitors the evolution of production costs monthly in two sectors. To better understand how this influence occurs in practice, it suffices to observe the trajectory of the price of bags of corn and soybeans. According to the Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics (Cepea), the actual average price of a 60-kilogram sack of maize rose from R$50.11 in April 2019 to R$97.15 in April 2021, an increase of 93.9%. During the same period, the bag of soybeans increased by 68.1%. This means that production costs for pork and poultry have increased at almost the same rate over the past three years.

This upward movement in corn and soybean prices was driven by the uncertainties linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the appreciation of the dollar against the real, the strong demand for cereals on the Asian market (mainly Chinese) and breaks in the first and second maize crops. due to climatic problems and the corn spittlebug, according to a study by the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA) published in July 2021. The latest estimate from the National Supply Company (Conab) is that total maize production in the 2020/2021 harvest will reach 85 million, well below the 106 million tonnes originally forecast. Thus, it is expected that in the short term, there will be a deficit of 15 to 20 million tons of maize on the domestic market.

“Rice, on the other hand, is in the opposite situation. Rice farmers in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, responsible for 91% of Brazilian production, achieved record productivity and delivered 8.5 million tonnes in the 2020/2021 harvest, the fourth However, with the stabilization of consumption in the domestic market and lower sales abroad (especially to Africa) compared to 2020, there is still rice in the country. But now there is a surplus and animal feed is an alternative”, explains Rodrigo Ramos Rizzo, agricultural engineer and special adviser to the presidency of the Federation of Agriculture of Rio Grande do Sul (Farsul).

Problem for one, solution for another

The problem of one sector then became the possibility of alleviating the situation of the other. According to Rodrigo Rizzo, there are already contracts for the sale of husk or broken rice between rice farmers and chicken and pork producers in Rio Grande do Sul. However, what will define the extent of the use of rice as an alternative food in animal feed will be the comparison of its price with that of maize at the time of purchase. Taking October prices into account, each kilo of maize for animal feed averaged R$1.50, while rice reached R$1.82 (brown rice).

Thus, the use of surplus rice to feed pigs and poultry is highly dependent on freight costs.

“That is why the use of rice as an alternative food is only profitable, in practice, in places that can count on a great logistical advantage”, emphasizes researcher Jorge Ludke.

The South region is part of this logic. It is the one with the biggest cereal deficit for pork and poultry and also the one that concentrates the surplus rice. On average, a bag of rice travels 500 km in southern Brazil to be transformed into animal feed. In the case of corn, which comes mainly from the Midwest, the distance amounts to about 2,000 km (from Sinop, MT, to Chapecó, SC), which represents up to 70% more expensive freight.

“The most important issue around the use of rice at the moment is, in fact, to strengthen the debate on the creation of mechanisms to sustain the supply of alternative foods for animal feed”, adds Embrapa researcher Suínos e Aves Dirceu. . Talamini, specialist in issues related to the cost of production of pork and poultry. There is still no clear picture of how much rice will help reduce production costs for pigs and poultry. Nor if both activities will consume all the excess rice. It is already certain, however, that the three sectors will face the rest of 2021 by sharing concerns and articulating synergies.

Learn more about how rice should be considered an alternative food ingredient.

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