Interview with a Scientist: People, Pigs and Provender  

In animal agriculture, feed costs account for approximately 60-70% of the total cost of production. Repurposing food by-products and co-products into nutritious livestock feed helps livestock farmers reduce their costs. It also diverts discarded food products from landfill to animal feed ingredients and ultimately affordable and nutritious meat and dairy products for human consumers.

In this edition of Interview with a Scientist, animal nutritionist Dr. Jason Frank talks people, pigs and provender. 

What inspired you to study animal nutrition?

I grew up in a city with no agricultural background. When I enrolled in college, I had two areas of interest: engineering and veterinary medicine. I started studying engineering, but didn’t enjoy the course work. After changing my major to animal science, I found that the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn! 

I completed my bachelor’s (Purdue University) in animal science, and my master’s (Purdue) and Ph.D. (University of Missouri) in swine nutrition and immunology. Then, as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the USDA/Agricultural Research Services in the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, I studied the nutrient physiology of muscle protein synthesis in neonatal pigs as a model for human infant nutrition. 

What do you do?

I work with the nutrition and product development team, and am responsible for the technical aspects related to our ingredients. This includes new product development, monitoring product quality and supporting our customers and sales team.

How are dairy and protein important to the diets of people and pigs?

We generally think about meat and dairy products providing protein and the amino acid building blocks used to build muscle. However, these products also are good sources of energy, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Just as it is for humans, dairy is an excellent source of protein and fat for young pigs and calves. Dairy-based ingredients remain the gold standard for young mammals because dairy proteins and fats are highly digestible. Better digestibility means higher nutritional value.

How do International Ingredient Company and Green Field Solutions work together?

As members of International Companies, both Green Field Solutions and International Ingredient Corporation manage and process food industry co-products, keeping valuable nutrients from going into a landfill by converting them to nutritious animal feed ingredients. The two function as extensions of one other. At IIC, our animal nutritionists have the expertise across a range of animal species. GFS understands the food and grain industries, and is able to identify co-products, while IIC’s technical team identifies livestock species that can best use them in the feed.