Don’t forget the hidden costs when making buying decisions

Casey Bradley Swine nutrition
Photo: Hans Prinsen
Photo: Hans Prinsen

Her road has finally curved back around, writes swine nutrition and health expert Dr Casey Bradley. “I am getting to work as an animal nutritionist increasingly these days, even though it is not always swine-focused.”

Some of my recent projects have included representing feed additives in the USA again, revising or developing new supplements and complete feeds, and evaluating by-products. Throughout the formulation process, as a nutritionist, you are asked to make decisions based on price, quality, freight and many other factors. Being in the game now for 20 years also forces me to make decisions between companies I respect and strong personal relationships.

Taking a look at butyrate

What are some key factors that drive my decisions? Let’s take butyrate as an example again.

Today’s butyrate forms include sodium or calcium butyrate, tributyrin and glycerol-bound butyrate. Then, coating processes and other items are added into the technical decision to complicate the selection process. Each item listed affects how and where the butyrate will work in the animal. However, there are other things I have to consider when selecting the right product.

Here are a few:

  1. Source of origin and/or biosecurity of ingredients through the manufacturing and transportation process;

  2. Employee safety and handling of the product;

  3. Distribution channels and associated freight of locations;

  4. Ease of purchasing and logistics.

I bet you think none of those impact whether or not the product creates an acceptable return on investment (ROI) for the production system. You are correct, but my job is more accessible as a nutritionist if my entire team is happy.

Nausea is a safety hazard

For instance, early in my career, I was involved in many trials evaluating coated and uncoated butyrate products, and the performance was comparable between the 2, but try driving around with a bag of uncoated butyrate in your trunk or having a sample in your office for a week. Suddenly, when your mill guys say they cannot stand the product’s smell, you will understand why those things matter, such as nausea being a safety hazard!

Remember, whatever decision you make, you need an all-terrain vehicle and a good nutritionist for the ride!


Price is not when you factor in freight and the business price. Remember, it takes extra paperwork, bank fees, and employee time to create separate purchase orders, when all the required feed additives could also be bought from one supplier versus the product of choice. Therefore, now I am making a buying decision based on my trace minerals and amino acid suppliers. Remember, whatever decision you make, you need an all-terrain vehicle and a good nutritionist for the ride!

In closing, do not forget the hidden costs when making your ROI and business decisions, and if I go with another supplier, please understand it is not you, and, hopefully, we will cross paths again soon, on this winding road of animal nutrition.

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