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Feed Efficiency in Swine: A Survey of Current Knowledge

14 December 2012

Kansas Swine Day 2012

There are gaps in information and knowledge of feed efficiency across the industry, according to J.R. Flohr of Kansas State University and others in a paper presented at Kansas Swine Industry Day 2012. Following a survey of more than 200 producers, consultants, academics and others in the industry, they concluded that most individuals are familiar with the advantages in feed efficiency associated with pelleting diets for pigs and that a large percentage of the industry uses or recommends using feed additives.

Pork producers and advisers to the swine industry were surveyed about their knowledge of feed efficiency.

The questionnaire was designed to accomplish three objectives:

  • determine the level of knowledge related to feed efficiency topics
  • identify production practices being used that influence feed efficiency, and
  • identify information gaps or areas requiring additional knowledge to further improve feed efficiency.

Producer responses imply that they are unfamiliar with information behind the effects of fat inclusion, particle size reduction, feed additives and thermal environment on feed efficiency. Many were not sure which energy system to use for evaluating dietary energy.

Consultants and individuals in academia had the highest percentage of correct answers for the knowledge questions, but less than half identified the correct response when asked how reducing particle size affects feed efficiency, and very few correctly answered the question on how thermal environment affects feed efficiency. This result suggests the need for more information and education in these two topic areas.

Respondents who classified themselves as 'Other' frequently replied 'Not sure' to many of the knowledge-based questions, and also to several production practice questions, which may be due to the great diversity of occupations within the group. When responses were sorted by years of experience, a majority of individuals with less experience, specifically those with less than five years, had higher percentages of 'Not sure' responses, which may be related to their unfamiliarity to specific industry practices and the knowledge behind those practices.

A majority of participants used or recommended using feed additives to improve feed efficiency; however, they indicated that they do not use other production practices such as fine-grinding cereal grains below 400µm or pelleting finishing diets because of economic or system constraints or because these processing technologies are not available in their feed mills.

Extension education about current knowledge and production practices that are already proven should be expanded to provide this information in an easy-to-access format for the swine industry. Ultimately, successful dissemination of this information should help producers and swine operations lower input costs by improving the efficiency of their feed utilisation.


Flohr J.R., M.D. Tokach, J.M. DeRouchey, J.F. Patience, R.D. Goodband, S.S. Dritz, J.L. Nelssen 2012. Feed efficiency in swine: a survey of current knowledge. Proceedings of the Kansas Swine Industry Day 2012, 1-16.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

December 2012

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