Nutrition Partners supporting Canadian producers as marketplace continues to evolve

In a rapidly changing landscape of livestock production across Canada one animal nutrition company has been focused on staying ahead of the curve for more than 15 years: Nutrition Partners.

The Canadian-based premix formulation and nutrient company has a core commitment to a multi-disciplinary approach that involves producers, nutritionists and veterinarians working together to advance the industry. Today, its focus has expanded beyond swine and now includes dairy— through Quebec-based sister organization Nutripartenaire—and poultry programs, according to President Darryl Lewis. This is part of Nutrition Partners’ ongoing commitment to nutrition and health in conjunction with proven management practices.

“You can have the best health and nutrition program available, but you must pair that with proper management,” he says, adding that with a shifting floor of industry standards, good communication is now critical for producer success. “We underscore that everyone must work together, from the producer to the veterinarian, otherwise overall animal programs will lose their efficacy.”

Shifting industry

With Dec. 1, 2018, marking the end of non-prescription antibiotic treatments for animals, Nutrition Partners has already been working with its customers for years to transition smoothly into a new era of livestock production. As part of the increased focus, there will be stronger partnerships between veterinarians and producers as well as implementation of updated best management practices.

“We have already been working with producers on this for more than five years,” said Lewis. “The dynamic has changed. Consumers want to know what, why and how we are doing what we do.”

To that end, the Nutrition Partners pre-mix operation is like nothing found anywhere else in North America. Its HACCP-certified facility in Airdrie, Alberta, features a Tumble Mix System, featuring multiple mixers, allowing for both a medicated and non-medicated line of premix formulations, with zero cross-contamination through a unique tote system.

For Nutrition Partners, this segregation during the creation of livestock formulations is an industry standout and was originally borrowed from the pharmaceutical industry to ensure perfect segregation of substances.

“With zero potential for carryover, we have a 100 per cent success rate when it comes to maintaining the segregation of different formulations,” says Lewis. “All the totes are self-cleaning, and when they are empty, you can physically see there is nothing inside.”

Innovation-focused progress

Lewis adds that the success of Nutrition Partners is driven by its “European philosophy” which has consistently maintained a higher degree of focus on animal welfare, often going above and beyond general mandated requirements. “In the last five years, Canada has begun to deal with issues that Europe was dealing with 10-plus years ago,” he says. “However, because of a high number of European-educated staff, we’ve managed to operate at a high level for years. We are constantly learning and challenging ourselves—not just when it becomes mandated.”

Jan Geurts is Nutrition Partners’ director of swine nutrition and the company’s first employee. He is proud to help producers succeed through Nutrition Partners many swine-based programs.

Nutrition Partners is working to drive innovation and profitability for its members through unique offerings, such as its slaughter analysis program, which was created by Geurts himself. It examines the optimum amount of back fat and weight range of a pig as well as feed conversion and ration rates after the animal has been slaughtered. This in-depth analysis helps producers not over- or under-feed their hogs and make minor adjustments, which may add up to major savings. By running different post-slaughter scenarios, a producer can easily see what would happen if they changed their programs in various ways.

“If you have to feed your pigs more, your costs go up and you’ll make less per animal. However, with the proper ranges, you’ll ensure the best return on investment,” he says. Similarly, Nutrition Partners’ farrow-to-finish analyzer gives producers in-depth understanding of the true input cost to raising a hog and modifying programs in order to achieve even greater results in the future.

“The program can calculate how you could easily save tens of thousands of dollars. If you are receiving, say, $6 less per pig because it’s outside of the optimum weight range, and you are shipping 100 pigs every week of the year, you can see how that’s a potential loss of $31,200 annually,” says Geurts, as an example. “The analyzer shows weak spots, strong points and how much certain changes would bring to your bottom line. If you don’t have that, then you don’t realize how much money you are leaving on the table.”

Another key area Nutrition Partners focuses on is net energy, a system that defines rations in the most advanced way possible, according to Geurts. “When you look at an ingredient, it’s all about how the animal processes it. Net energy determines exactly what the animal is going to absorb and maintain to grow and then only giving the animal that specific amount of ration. It’s one of our driving factors at Nutrition Partners—we want customers to be at their top of their game and this is helping them achieve that in a big way.”

Batch farrowing sows every three to five weeks, as opposed to weekly, is also becoming a trend that Geurts says is serving producers well. “Instead of 20 sows farrowing every four weeks, it’s now 80 in one week. The gap is too big in previous four-by-20 systems. The batch farrow has resulted in animals that are quite a bit healthier thanks to improved management practices we teach producers.”

Cross-disciplinary teamwork

Nutrition Partners’ collaborative approach with producers to ensure farm-level success starts back at HQ. Innovation teams made up of scientists, marketers, nutritionists and others meet consistently throughout the year and look at solving problems and introducing solutions to the marketplace, according to Shawn Fairbairn, director of poultry nutrition.

“Having that commitment and focus on innovation and new services for the industry is good. A lot of companies talk about it, but not a lot of them do it. It was the internal Nutrition Partners leadership to start that,” he says.

One recent example of a marketplace solution is the company’s farm-water-acid-titration analysis, which measures all components within your water from chlorine to pH, ultimately to give producers the best water source in their drinkers for the livestock. “Creating that service was something that came out of the poultry innovation group in the last year,” he says.

Across all livestock disciplines, the overall thrust of Nutrition Partners remains an integrated management approach regarding animal welfare through quality formulations and high standards to give Canadian producers success in the marketplace.

“We are a people business. Our production facility is important to what we do, but our strength is our people,” says Lewis. “We look at all clients as partners; we don’t work for them, but with them, to make them better.”

Nutrition Partners is committed to sector collaboration involving livestock producers, nutritionists, veterinarians and industry experts to drive profitability and innovation in Canada through its one-of-a-kind premix facility, producer programs and integrated management techniques.