Yogurt, Potato Chips: Ideal Pig Diet

ByABC News

D E S   M O I N E S, Iowa, Jan. 8, 2001 -- Pigs gobbling potato chips could resultin better-tasting pork chops and sows savoring yogurt could lead toa reduction of salmonella in pork.

Those are conclusions from studies that researchers at IowaState and Ohio State universities are making into the diets ofswine.

The Iowa research project is feeding hogs a yogurt-like food inhopes of lowering salmonella levels in the animals. A three-year,$600,000 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department is paying IowaState to test alternatives to antibiotics in swine.

Salmonella sickens up to 4 million Americans a year. Somestrains have become resistant to antibiotics, said Hank Harris, amicrobiologist involved with the project.

Potato Chips Make Pigs Fat Fast

“If resistant salmonella makes it to humans through food, itcould pass its resistance to other organisms, making treatment ofhuman diseases harder,” Harris said.

Preliminary studies indicate salmonella levels have been reducedin young pigs fed milk containing Lactobacillus, a bacterium takenfrom the pigs’ intestinal tracts. It is also a common yogurtculture.

“We’re basically feeding yogurt to pigs,” Harris said.

Ohio State researchers found that potato chips put weight onyoung pigs faster than a regular corn diet because the oil in thechips supplies hogs with more energy than corn, said Sha Rahnema,an animal nutritionist at the Agricultural Technical Institute inWooster, Ohio.

“We found that replacing 10 to 15 percent of the corn workedbest,” Rahnema said.

More research will be conducted to see how the chip diet affectssows and chickens.

Juicier, Tastier Pork

Chip research began in 1995 as a class project when studentswere asked to come up with alternative feed sources for hogs. Theproximity of a Shearer’s Foods Co. potato chip factory led theyoung researchers to the snack food.

Shearer’s donated small, discolored or broken chips, which weremixed with other hog feed ingredients.

One advantage to hog producers would be reduction in feed costswith a partial potato chip diet. Potato chip scraps cost $6 to$7.50 a ton, while corn is priced at more than $75 a ton.

A taste panel of Ohio State faculty and staff concluded that inone taste test, pork from the chip-fed pigs was juicier and tastedbetter. Most of the time, however, the panel could not tell thedifference between corn-fed pork and potato-chip chops.

Corn producers need not worry about losing a significant marketto potato growers yet.

Edith Munro, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Corn Growers Associationand Iowa Corn Promotions Board, said potato chip makers could notsupply enough scraps to significantly displace corn as a feedstaple for hogs.

“I do not personally think this will be anything to get excitedabout,” she said.

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