Farm and Field

Demand for chicken wings boosts farm prices

Posted: Nov. 5, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 6, 2017 8:09 am

Chicken wings helped poultry farm prices take off this year.

Wing prices ran at least 30 percent above year-ago levels since late May, University of Missouri Extension economists say, and thighs and legs also sold well above a year ago as dark meat leads demand.

But a trend to dark meat hasn't helped turkey sales. "Chicken and turkey prices moved in opposite directions in 2017," MU Extension economist Scott Brown said.

A MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute report shows chicken production growing at a modest annual rate near 2 percent. Turkey growth stays less than 1 percent this year and next, and lower turkey prices reduce supplies.

That drop in turkeys has occurred only three times since 2003. As recently as November 2015, turkey prices had a significant price spread above chicken.

Chicken exports grew for the second year, but not as strong as beef and pork, Brown said.

This year, per capita consumption of chicken hit over 91 pounds. That tops turkey with less than 17 pounds per person. Most turkey continues to be eaten in November and December, and the economists don't expect chicken wings to be the center of the dinner table at Thanksgiving.


Pig diets

The amount of digestible calcium included in pig diets has a direct impact on phosphorus digestibility, but the optimum ratio between the two minerals has not yet been found.

In a recent study from the University of Illinois, scientists established a first approximation of that ratio for 25- to 50-kilogram pigs.

"Because calcium is an inexpensive ingredient, the thinking was that we could add as much as we wanted. We discovered several years ago that may not be a good approach, because if you increase calcium in the diet, you reduce absorption of phosphorus," said Hans Stein, U of I professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. "As phosphorus availability goes down, so does the pigs' growth performance. Feed intake, and therefore body weight gain and feed efficiency, goes down."

Stein and his collaborators formulated 20 corn-soybean meal-based diets, varying in calcium and phosphorus concentration, and fed them to 240 pigs over four weeks. By the end of the trial, the researchers were able to determine pig growth performance, in terms of average daily gain and gain to feed, as well as incorporation of the minerals into bone.

"The results confirmed what we've seen before. If you feed too much calcium, in particular with low or marginal phosphorus in the diet, pig growth performance goes down," Stein said. "We still need to do more work to determine the optimum ratio between the two, but we have definitely confirmed that the ratio is very important."

Stein said most pig diets are formulated with marginal phosphorus, partly due to cost of the ingredient and partly because producers want to avoid having to mitigate excreted phosphorus in manure. But diets formulated with too much calcium or too little phosphorus could be reducing pig growth performance.

"If someone asked us today, we would say that to maximize average daily gain and gain to feed for 25- to-50 kg pigs, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be between 1.16:1 and 1.43:1," Stein said. "However, it is possible that we will have to change that ratio as we get more data. It is still very early."