Pork By-Products: A Treasure Trove for Swine Diets

pork by-products

Pork production costs are largely driven by feed expenses, accounting for 65-70% of total costs. While corn and soybean meal are popular feed choices, it’s important to consider alternative options that can reduce diet costs without compromising pig growth and nutrition. This article explores the potential of various pork by-products that are both cost-effective and beneficial for swine diets.


  • Identifying useful by-products for swine diets
  • Understanding the nutrient composition and availability of by-products
  • Exploring successful utilization strategies for incorporating by-products in swine feeding

Questions to Consider Before Utilizing By-products:

Before incorporating by-products into swine diets, it’s crucial to address several key questions. These include:

  1. Are there any health hazards associated with the by-products?
  2. Is the nutrient composition suitable for swine feeding?
  3. Are there any additional costs associated with utilizing the by-products?

By considering these factors and conducting thorough analysis, producers can determine the viability and cost-effectiveness of incorporating specific by-products in their feeding program.

Potential By-products for Swine Diets:

By-products suitable for swine diets can be classified based on their primary product origin. These include:

  • Grain by-products (distilling, brewing, milling, baking)
  • Animal by-products (milk, meat, egg)
  • Vegetable by-products (potato, cull beans, field peas)
  • Sugar and starch by-products (molasses, salvage candy)

Each by-product has a unique nutrient profile and utilization potential, which will be explored further in the following sections.

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Grain Fermentation By-products:

The brewing and distilling industries produce valuable by-products for swine diets. Brewers dried grains, distillers dried grains, and stillage are the principal by-products. Distillers dried grains (DDGS) are residues from ethanol production and have been extensively used in swine feeding. They provide lysine, phosphorus, and energy, serving as a cost-effective substitute for conventional ingredients. However, it’s important to consider the concentration and quality of DDGS, as newer generation plants produce higher-quality by-products.

Research has shown that DDGS from new generation ethanol plants have higher nutrient concentrations, making them even more valuable in swine diets. It’s essential to analyze and assess the source and quality of DDGS to make informed decisions regarding their incorporation into the feeding program.

Brewers dried grains, on the other hand, are low-energy feeds but can be used in gestation diets to meet lysine requirements. Stillage, a wet mash resulting from on-farm alcohol production, is better utilized by ruminants due to its high fiber and water content.

Grain Milling By-products:

Corn and wheat milling processes generate several by-products suitable for swine diets. Corn bran, hominy feed, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, and wheat by-products offer alternative nutrient sources. Corn bran is low in energy but similar to whole corn grain in protein and essential nutrients. Hominy feed can replace corn in swine diets, providing energy and protein. Corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal have higher protein levels but are better utilized by cattle due to their high fiber content.

Wheat bran, middlings, and shorts are valuable sources of energy and protein for swine diets. Wheat bran, with its high fiber content, is primarily used as a laxative agent in sow diets. Middlings and shorts have good pellet binding properties and are widely used in commercially-pelleted swine feeds.

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Rice by-products, including rice bran, rice polishings, and dried rice whey, offer a range of nutrients valuable for swine nutrition. Rice bran is low in energy but can be used in gestation diets, while rice polishings can be included in growing-finishing diets at satisfactory levels.

Bakery By-products:

Dried bakery products, consisting of bread, cookies, cake, crackers, and dough, can be incorporated into swine diets. These products have a high energy value, making them suitable for replacing corn in the diet. However, caution must be exercised due to the high salt content, and ample water should be provided to prevent dehydration.

Meat By-products:

Meat by-products, including animal fat, blood meal, and meat meal, provide valuable nutrients for swine diets. Animal fat serves as an energy source, while blood meal is an essential protein supplement. Meat meal and meat and bone meal offer protein and minerals. When incorporating meat by-products, careful analysis and consideration of lysine availability is crucial.

Egg By-products:

Discarded eggs and hatchery by-products are valuable feed sources for swine. Discarded eggs, when cooked, can replace a portion of the corn in swine diets and provide additional calcium. Hatchery by-product meal is rich in protein and calcium, making it suitable for growing-finishing diets.

Vegetable By-products:

Cull potatoes and field peas offer alternative energy and amino acid sources. Cooked cull potatoes can replace a significant portion of corn in growing-finishing diets, while field peas require no heat treatment before use. Both options should be properly balanced for lysine and supplemented with essential amino acids.

Sugar and Starch By-products:

Sugar and starch by-products, such as molasses and salvage candy, can be valuable components of swine diets. Molasses, particularly cane molasses, provides energy and minerals, while salvage candy offers additional energy. These ingredients can partially or fully replace corn in swine diets, depending on the current market prices.

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Calculating the Value of By-products:

To determine the economic value of by-products, formulas have been developed based on corn, soybean meal, and dicalcium phosphate prices. By plugging in the current prices, the value of the by-product can be calculated in cents per pound, enabling producers to assess its cost-effectiveness compared to traditional ingredients.


By-products can play a significant role in reducing swine diet costs without compromising pig growth and nutrition. Grain fermentation by-products, grain milling by-products, bakery by-products, meat by-products, egg by-products, vegetable by-products, and sugar and starch by-products all offer valuable nutrient sources that can be incorporated into swine diets.

Proper analysis and consideration of nutrient composition, availability, and economic value are essential when utilizing by-products in swine feeding. By taking advantage of the diverse range of by-products available, pork producers can optimize their feeding programs, improving cost-efficiency without compromising pig performance and nutrition.

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