Even more nutritional solutions are on the horizon to help pork producers reduce excess nutrients lost in manure. The Optimum Quality Grains alliance between DuPont and Pioneer Hi-Bred International announced the expected introduction of low phytate corn to the market in the year 2000.

Researchers will soon be sharing results from feeding low-phytate corn to pigs.

The new corn was developed when plant breeders were able to genetically reduce the phytic acid content of the grain. Phytic acid is an organic form of phosphorus in corn that is essentially unavailable for use by pigs. It makes up about three-fourths of the total phosphorus in normal corn.

A lot has been written recently about the phytase enzyme that, when added to pig diets, can help the animals better utilize the phytic acid form of phosphorus. Gary Allee, University of Missouri animal scientist, has conducted five of the recent pig feeding trials using the new low-phytate grain. Pigs from 50 lb. to 260 lb. were fed low-phytate corn in one study. "In normal corn, the phosphorus level is in the 10-20% available range," Allee explains. "With the low-phytate corn, you are probably looking at 50-70% available phosphorus. This will result in some dramatic differences in the amount of supplemental phosphorus you are going to have to add to the diet if you are formulating on an available phosphorus basis."

According to Linda Wyss, product manager, corn feed traits, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, pork producers can expect substantial increases in available phosphorus by feeding the new product. Additional value may result from reduced phosphorus runoff.

Gary Cromwell, University of Kentucky, has conducted low-phytate corn feeding trials on both chickens and pigs, and says the results are quite promising. He found phosphorus is three to four times more available in the low-phytic-acid corn compared with normal corn. "This is not a product about which we are making pie-in-the-sky claims," he says. "I think low-phytate corn has some very important benefits and implications."

As with any new development, researchers urge producers to be on the lookout for more research and economic information as it becomes available on this new product.