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Feed, Caloric and Financial Efficiency

18 September 2013

Delegates at the 2013 London Swine Conference heard from John F. Patience of Iowa State University about the interactions between dietary energy and fat and their effects on growing pig performance and farm profitability.

Meeting the energy specifications of a typical grower diet represents about 85 per cent of the total cost of that diet and thus more than half of the total cost of pork production, John F. Patience of Iowa State University told the 2013 London Swine Conference.

With the cost of dietary energy more than doubling in the past eight years, the challenge is clear, he said: how to optimise the efficiency with which dietary energy is utilised while also ensuring the overall new income for the farm is maximised. This may mean that energy will be looked upon differently since maximising barn throughput may no longer be the most financially advantageous strategy.

There are different sources of energy in the diet, and the efficiency with which each is used depends on where it comes from and also how it is used.

This makes the management of dietary energy much more complex than the nutrients such as amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

Dietary energy is used for three purposes: maintenance, lean gain and fat again. Successful barn management will include strategies to minimise the quality of energy used for maintenance and for fat gain. To complicate the picture further, fat in the diet can impact the quality and composition of the carcass.

Successful management of dietary energy requires an understanding of the pig's response to changes in dietary on an individual farm or system basis.

It has a very significant impact on the decision-making process as it relates to selecting the concentration of energy in the diet and because this response varies widely between farms.

Opportunities exit to utilise dietary energy more efficiently and effectively but improvements will not come easily or quickly, he said.

"The previous emphasis placed on maximising growth rate may no longer support the highest level of profit"

In his conclusions, Dr Patience stressed that the previous emphasis placed on maximising growth rate may no longer support the highest level of profit.

Furthermore, understanding dietary energy intake is crucial to success as it provides the foundational knowledge required to determine how the pig will respond to changes in diet cost and energy content.

Finally, he concluded, when the diet contains fat - either through the basal ingredients or through the addition of specific fat sources, carcass fat quality and composition may be impacted, either positively or negatively. 


Patience J.F. 2013. Feed, calorific and financial efficiency. Proceedings of the London Swine Conference, London, Ontario, Canada. March 2013. p95-103.

Further Reading

You can view other papers from the 2013 London Swine Conference by clicking here.

September 2013

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