Discussion with industry expert reveals what’s to come in 2018 and beyond for livestock production

Nutrition Partners focuses its business on people first. They achieve this through their three key principles of integrity, respect and transparency. In today’s rapidly evolving livestock sector, it’s important to know from industry experts what is happening and how to prepare for it. We sat down with Nutrition Partners president Darryl Lewis and learned what 2018 and beyond may look like from his perspective and learn how Nutrition Partners is uniquely situated to provide comprehensive value to Canadian producers.

Q: The landscape of the Canadian livestock industry is rapidly evolving. What key trends do you see emerging? 

A: As of Dec. 1, 2018, producers will continue to lessen their use of antibiotics, with only prescription treatments allowed. We are transitioning into a period of greater focus on integrated health and nutrition management for livestock like never before in Canada. This has been something producers have been preparing for over the last few years, but we are rapidly approaching that deadline. This will create a greater integration with veterinarians, as well, which is a positive development.

As farm nutritionists and veterinarians begin to further collaborate, the producer’s livestock programs should become that much more focused due to increased communication throughout the value chain. The healthier the animals are, the better they eat, the healthier they grow, it’s really that simple. I always say about 80 percent of what goes on at a farm is proper management. Now, we as an industry are tasked with bringing that 20 per cent up to a new standard.

Q: What do these changes mean for producers?

A: For producers, industry changes such as regulations to housing setups, bio-security, reduced antibiotic use and greater animal welfare, all come with a price tag. As always, certain producers are way ahead of the curve and have implemented these integrated management approaches, while others are waiting to see if the changes will last. We may see farm-level consolidation for operations that are not able to adopt and operate under these incoming regulatory changes.

There’s a real spectrum out there of how people look at it. Some producers view this as a natural progression and embrace it while others are not sure if these rules and regulations will stick.

Q: What has been driving these changes?

A: Consumers have moved past the grocery store and have become increasingly interested in food production. People want to know what, why and how their food eats other food. This is why we are seeing program rollouts that include “no animal by-products” and “grain-fed.” It’s all relatively new, but I don’t see it going away any time soon, so producers must be aware of this and respond accordingly. It’s important we as an industry show consumers how we do what we do and why we do it. We have to accept incoming changes instead of putting on the blinders.

Q: What are you hearing from producers?

A: Certain producers find optimism with the upcoming changes to animal welfare in terms of production. The reduction of antibiotic use has been seen as something to embrace because it may be a value-added proposition for certain producers moving forward.

Others are having difficulty with certain regulations because of the capital costs associated with making production shifts—from barn setups to nutrition and disease management.

A continued education between producers and consumers will help drive a greater understanding between urban and rural and, ultimately, instill additional public trust in the great work producers have always done.

Q: How is Nutrition Partners driving innovation for its clients?

 A: We have always had an integrated approach to nutrition and health management as part of our culture to achieving the highest possible animal welfare. Our commitment to quality premixes is what helps set us apart in the industry. We have a human-grade, HACCP-certified production facility in Airdrie, Alberta unlike anything else in North America. It’s here that we can create any kind of medicated, or non-medicated premix for a producer. Our unique tote system, which includes separate mixers for nutrients and micronutrients, guarantees we have zero cross-contamination or undesired carryover between batches. Our stainless steel, hopper-bottom totes allow us to see any potential residues, making production very straightforward.

Q: How does Nutrition Partners give producers a leg up when it comes to efficiency?

A: We also formulate our premixes on a net energy basis. This is a way of formulating the diet that means when you get to raw, net energy of the ingredients, you can feed different ingredients and it’s a cost savings for the producer. When you balance down to that net energy basis, it gives you a lower cost in the diet for the animal’s complete feed program. It’s giving the animal exact what it’s going to absorb and utilize to maintain and grow.

Q: What is Nutrition Partners’ core philosophy?

A: Our core focus is the producer. We focus on them by offering quality premixes that will ultimately improve upon pre-existing nutrition patterns increase animal welfare.

We want to be partners in their business. We don’t want to just work for them, we want to collaboratively lift the overall level of profitability for them. Quality, safety, integrity—it all comes back to creating those top-rate products for producers and helping them succeed.