Feed Bites

The Feed Industry – One of America's Biggest Recyclers

Written by: Paul Davis   |   November 15, 2019

Co-products, Environmental footprint, Holidays

Today and every day, the U.S. feed industry celebrates America Recycles Day. The feed industry is and always has been a big recycler through its use of co-products in animal feed. Recycling products that would otherwise be discarded into co-products to be used in feed significantly helps to reduce our environmental footprint.

In 2016, roughly 110 million tons – or roughly 47% of the total feed produced in the U.S. – came from co-products that may have otherwise found homes in landfills. In fact, all landfills in the U.S. would be full in just four years if it weren’t for the use of co-products – and the feed industry is definitely doing its part!

Think of any industry in the food and beverage sector – you can bet that animals benefit from that industry’s co-products. Almost all major feed ingredients are co-products, with the exception of whole grains and cottonseed. Feed manufacturers use a wide array of co-products in making animal feed, such as:

  • Soybean meal, which is a source of high-quality protein for many species;
  • Wheat middlings (or wheat shorts), which can be considered the Swiss army knife of ingredients, as they contribute energy, protein and fiber;
  • Citrus peels and seeds, which are recycled into citrus pulp, often used as an energy source in feed;
  • Oyster shell, which can be used as a source of calcium in laying hen diets;
  • Co-products from ice cream production, which can be used as an energy source in dairy and swine diets, thanks to the sugar content;
  • Almond hulls, which serves as a good source of fiber in feed for dairy cows;
  • Whey, a co-product from cheese making, which provides a source of protein in baby pigs diets and calf replacers;
  • Brewer's grains from brewing beer, which are often fed to dairy cows as a source of protein and energy;
  • Peanut hulls and skins from peanut butter production, which serves as a source of fiber for cattle;
  • Leftover candy, which are used as an energy source in cattle feed;
  • Apple pomace, which is the solid residue that remains after milling and pressing apples into cider, juice and puree; and many more!

For decades, the animal food industry has played a critical role in finding innovative ways to use leftovers from food processors and reducing food waste. The feed industry is committed to continuing to do good by the environment and to finding new ways to do more with less.

Happy America Recycles Day!

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