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What animal species consumes the greatest share of feed handled by feed mills? What species ranks second on that consumption?

The worldwide answers are poultry and pigs — 46 percent and 25 percent, respectively, according to the data collected for Alltech's fifth annual global feed survey. Those numbers and many more were presented in a recent webinar by the company's chief innovation officer Aidan Connolly.

Numbers collected for 2015 in 131 countries by Alltech's sales force of 600 and feed industry associations indicated that feed production during the year totaled 995.5 million metric tons — up by 1.97 percent from 2014 and by 14 percent since the survey began in 2011, Connolly reported.

During 2015, the sale value of those feeds was approximately $450 billion, down from nearly $465 billion in 2014, Connolly said. The survey numbers do not include forages, he noted.

National statistics

The 2015 statistics, which included data from 32,341 feed mills around the world, tracked feed for poultry, pigs, dairy cattle, beef cattle, horses, farmed fish and pets. Totals in the top five countries were 179.93 million metric tons (mmt) for China, 173.73 mmt for the United States, 68.7 mmt for Brazil and just over 31 mmt for both Mexico and India.

Other countries in the top 10 were Spain, Russia, Germany, France and Japan, each with at least 21 mmt. Although it is generally difficult to obtain any kind of reliable statistics for China, Connolly was confident in Alltech's numbers because a Chinese official quoted them in a presentation at the United Nations.

Within types of feed, corn made up 76 percent of the world's cereal grains, while wheat had 21 percent and barley 1 percent. In the protein feeds, soybean meal dominated with 96 percent with sunflowers, canola and rapeseed each having a 1 percent share.

Animal categories

In addition to the 46 percent for poultry and 25 percent for pigs, ruminant animals accounted for 20 percent of the feeds handled by mills while aqua (farmed fish) used 3.5 percent in 2015, Connolly reported. China is responsible for about 50 percent of the aqua category, he said.

The 463.3 mmt of feed going to poultry in 2015 was a 22-percent increase during the five years that Alltech has collected the data. 'There is a trend to more white meat,' Connolly stated.

The 253.5 mmt for pigs was down by 2 percent from 2014 but still up by 26 percent from 2011. Connolly noted that China had reduced its sow numbers from about 50 million to 40 million during the year.

For ruminants, the 201.3 mmt for 2015 was a decrease of 10 percent over the 5 year period. Dairy cattle accounted for 116 mmt of that total — up by 4 percent from 2014. Connolly doesn't expect any near term increase in the ruminant category.

The horse feed total was off by 2 percent in 2015, but the overall category, including pets and other animals, was up by 4 percent for 2015. For aqua feeds, the 35.47 mmt in 2015 was up by 19 percent over the five years despite the 5 percent decline in China compared to 2014.

Feed price differences

Feed prices in China are about twice as high as those in the United States and the prices are also relatively high in Japan, Switzerland and Ecuador, due in large part to public policies protecting the interests of local farmers, Connolly said. Nigeria, Haiti, Cuba and Yemen are among the other countries with high prices for animal feed.

Among the leading animal number and feed volume countries, the United States, Brazil, Russia and Canada enjoy some of the lowest feed prices, Connolly said. Africa presents the most difficult challenge in collecting accurate statistics because of the various civil disorders in several areas of the continent.

Feed mill trends

Despite the increase in feed volumes, the trend for feed mill numbers is downward, Connolly reported. During 2015, the total in the United States fell to 6,012 compared to 6,718 in 2014, while Brazil's total dropped from 1,698 to 1,556. To a question about the drop in feed mill numbers, Connolly cited consolidation and specialization within the industry.

China topped the list in 2015 for feed mill numbers with 8,550. Europe had 5,545 feed mills as the continent enjoyed a 13 mmt increase in feed volume for 2015. In the Middle East countries, the 719 feed mills handled 21.4 mmt of animal feed during the year.

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