Protein is an essential nutrient in animal diets. With the current exorbitant prices of commercially produced feeds, farmers are under pressure to provide affordable protein rich supplements. Agricultural research reveals that the need to meet animal protein demand is set to increase rapidly over the next few decades. Soybean meal poses a solution to this growing challenge. Soybean is not only a source of high protein for humans but can also be given to animal species. It has favourable attributes including suitable amino acids that are essential for increased productivity which directly translates to profitability. The rations of soybean meal varies according to different animal species, breed variety as well as maturity level. Farmers are therefore advised to acquire necessary knowledge regarding soybean meal for animal feed and suitable rations. This does not only help to provide sufficient protein but to determine proper supplementary feed for maximum production.

Nutritional Value

Soybean meal is the by-product of the extraction of soybean oil. It is the most important protein source used to for animal feed. It is said to represent 2/3 of the total world output of protein feed stuff. Its protein value is unsurpassed by any other plant protein source and it is the standard to which other protein sources are compared. Soybean meal for animal feed is thus recommended by the agricultural community. In fact, most commercially produced animal feed contain a substantial amount of soybean meal. It is a highly palatable feedstuff that is characterised by a high protein content of approximately 43 to 53% and low crude fibre of about 3%. Note that these values may vary with regards to the harvesting and processing method. Soybean meal has a very good amino acid balance and contains high amounts of lysine, tryptophane, threonine and isoleucine, which are often lacking in cereal grains.

Despite these benefits, soybean meal is a poor source of vitamin B hence the need for a suitable supplementary feed. Lack of vitamin B puts animals at risk of reproductive and performance problems. Also, the concentration of cystine and methionine are suboptimal for monogastric animals, and methionine supplementation is necessary. Soybean meal for animals is often combined with maize to ensure animals are provided with a well-balanced feed thus maximising production. Another essential point to note is that whole soybeans contain an anti-nutritional factor referred to as trypsin inhibitor. As such, it is recommended to ensure that livestock are not given excess soybeans.

Soybean Meal for Physiological Development

Proteins play a crucial role in the physiological development of all animal species hence the importance of soybean meal for animal feed. The majority of animal tissues and organs require protein as their building blocks. As previously stated, soybean meal for animal feed is of the essence as it provides proteins necessary for the growth and regeneration of tissues. Animal dietary needs differ according to the breed and maturity level. For example, young and lactating livestock require an increased protein intake in comparison to other animals.  As such, the requirements of soybean meal in animal dietary plans are bound to vary accordingly. Young animals need relatively high levels of crude protein in their diets so as to support development of bones, muscles, and organs. Animals that are pregnant or lactating have specific and increased nutritional needs to enable full term pregnancy as well as the birth of healthy young ones. Pregnant animals therefore need nutrition not only for themselves but also for the developing babies. Protein intake is evidently higher during this stage of production.

Soybean meal has an excellent profile of essential amino acids and these are highly digestible. It has the highest lysine digestibility of roughly 91% of any of the commonly available protein sources. It also ranks high in methionine, cystine and threonine digestibility. For this reason, nutrients absorption is facilitated thereby allowing efficient weight gain and timely maturity. To add on, soybean meal for animal feed is necessary as it contains trace minerals that are important to maintain and regulate bodily functions. Trace nutrients are often ignored as effects are witnessed overtime. They are however of the essence and deficiencies have adverse effects to overall performance. Ruminants lacking in proteins have been reported to suffer from poor appetite, a dull coat, poor growth and reduced fertility.

Soybean Meal for Health Maintenance

Health is of the utmost importance in animal husbandry. There is direct correlation between health and productivity which in turn translates to profitability. Sickly animals have very low productivity. In severe cases, production can cease. For this reason, farmers should make sure that animals are given appropriate feed in adequate rations to improve and maintain health. Soybean meal for animal feed is highly famed for its high protein content, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and potassium among other minerals. When ensilaged with suitable supplementary feed such as wheat, soybean meal helps to keep animals healthy by boosting the immune system thereby allowing some form of resistance to rampant diseases and infections. Keep in mind that a dietary plan solely based on soybean meal deprives animals of essential nutrients therefore has the opposite effect.

Oxidation is among the rampant problems experienced by livestock farmers. Oxidation has a negative effect on the texture and taste of the meat. As such, farmers are forced to sell the produce at very low prices. With the current global craze in healthy feed options, farmers may even fail to sell the meat resulting in a failed agricultural venture. Synthetic antioxidants are frowned upon hence the need for natural means of controlling oxidation. A well-balanced meal rich in trace minerals is a solution. It protects animals from oxidative stress thereby ensuring healthy livestock.

Conclusion

Soybean yields about 18.6% oil and 78.7% soybean meal with the rest being waste. There are two types of soybean meal including the dehulled soybean. Although it has long been considered as human food, some farmers now grow soybean meal for solely for animal feed. Due to its high nutritional value and superior quality of protein and amino acids, it constitutes the major and preferred source of protein for a range of animals like poultry, ruminants as well as monogastric species.  It is a good complement to cereals that contain lower levels of those amino acids but higher levels of methionine which are limiting in soybean meal. Soybean meal is an important part of the diets of ruminants. This being owed to its high amount of rumen degradable protein of approximately 60%, good amino acid balance and high cell-wall digestibility.