Globally, feed mills produced 963 million metric tons of livestock feed during 2013, according to results of a major survey from animal health and nutrition company Alltech. Aidan Connolly, vice president of Alltech and director of the company’s global feed survey says analysts expected feed production to top 1 billion tons this year, but several factors contributed to slower-than-expected growth.

Alltech held a webinar for media representatives on Jan. 27 to outline the results of the survey.

Alltech says their survey is the largest and most comprehensive study of the global feed industry, with an international sales force of 600 people collecting information from 28,000 feed mills in 130 countries. The survey was completed during December 2013. The study focuses on the output of feedmills, and not animal feeds grown and fed on farms.

China is the world’s largest producer of livestock feeds, producing 189 million tons during 2013, followed by the United States, which produced 169 million tons. Brazil is third, producing 67 million tons of feed in 2013, with Mexico, Spain, India, Russia, Japan, Germany and France rounding out the top 10.  

Global 2013 feedmill output grew by 1 percent over that during 2012, according to the Alltech report. That rate of growth was down from a more typical trend of 4 to 5 percent annual growth in feed production. The high cost of feed commodities likely contributed to slower growth during 2013, but high feed prices also added to the total value of the global feed industry, which Alltech estimates at $500 billion, up from $350 billion a year ago.

According to the survey results, feed for poultry is by far the largest segment of the global industry, accounting for 444 million metric tons, or 46 percent of total production in 2013. Feed for pigs totaled 243 million metric tons during 2013. Feed production for ruminant livestock totaled 195.5 million tons during 2013. Within the ruminant category, dairy accounted for 111 million tons and beef accounted for 72.5 million tons. Smaller categories including feed for veal, sheep and goats account for the remainder of production for ruminants.

Connolly says global production of feed for ruminants declined by 20 percent during 2013, in contrast with growth in production for poultry and pigs and fish. Likely reasons include smaller cattle herds in some areas and a likely shift away from manufactured grain-based feeds toward more on-farm forage feeding during a time of high grain prices.

Feed for aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector, posting a 17 percent growth rate during 2013. Globally, feedmills produced about 40 million tons of feed for aquaculture last year.