Reducing Costs in Pig Production

By Livestock Knowledge Transfer, UK - This article shows the results of questionnaires sent to pig producers and their organisations in late 2000, and identifies the technical priorities for the British pig industry.
calendar icon 1 May 2003
clock icon 4 minute read

Table 1. Technical priorities for British pig industry

  • Reduce costs of production
  • Achieve genetic potential by combating diseases particularly PDNS and PMWS
  • Improve food safety by reducing risks from salmonella
  • Define and promote British Quality Standards
  • Improve product quality – marketable ‘points of difference’ for British products
The overwhelming need to reduce production costs relates to our ability to compete with imports which are produced at lower cost. Analysis by BPEX and MLC has shown that production costs need to be reduced by about 15p/kg deadweight to make British pigmeat competitive (Table 2). This can be achieved if the changes shown in Table 2 are made.

Table 2. Basis for achieving 15p/Kg deadweight reduction in production costs

Type Average Target (4 years)
Days to slaughter (93 Kg) 180 -25
Lifetime growth rate (g/day) 500 +90
Feeding herd costs (p/Kg gain) 35 -5

The total value to the British pig industry if these changes are made is about £23 million according to BPEX.
They consider the changes are achievable over 4 years if producers adopt new technology and ideas. These will form the basis of a series of KT articles called ‘Getting the best from your pigs’ (Table 3).

Table 3. Getting the best from your pigs. Areas where improvement could reduce costs of production

  • Understanding energy and protein
  • Nutrition of the weaned pig
  • A feeding strategy for pigs
  • Producing the right carcass
  • Liquid vs dry feeding
  • Feeding the breeding gilt
  • Making the most of your sows
In addition to reducing costs of production, the questionnaires identified two other areas where technical changes are needed. The first is to provide an answer to the question: why don’t our genetically improved pigs perform so well in practice? KT articles under this heading are in Table 4.

Table 4. How to combat disease and achieve genetic potential

  • Introducing new genetics to the pig unit
  • Update on diagnosis and control of the new pig diseases – PDNS and PMWS
  • Zoonotic diseases (eg Salmonella) in pigs and how to combat them
  • Growth promoters: how to replace the need for antimicrobials
Another area of importance is the general area of ‘Quality’. To consumers this encompasses animal welfare and food safety as well as taste. How do we incorporate these into British Quality Standards at reasonable costs and how do we develop the integration needed so that all partners in the value chain benefit? These subjects will form the basis of a further series of articles (Table 5).

Table 5. Higher quality British pork and bacon

  • Update on the new EU welfare directives – the breeding and finishing herds
  • Farm Assurance standards for pork and bacon
  • What is meat quality and how to control it
  • Developing value chains in the pig industry: producers – processors – retailers

Source: Livestock Knowledge Transfer - First published 2001. Added to this site 2003.

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