Big benefits from heavy pigs

UK - Most UK pig producers have an opportunity to reduce production costs by as much as seven per cent by increasing the slaughter weights of their finishers.
calendar icon 18 September 2003
clock icon 3 minute read
JSR Genetics on

"Raising liveweight from 100 kg to 120 kg can cut production costs from 91.2p per kg deadweight to 84.5p per kg deadweight," Mick Hazzledine told the 14th Annual JSR Technical Conference, at Nottingham University's Sutton Bonington Campus.

Pen utilisation and stocking density must be considered but where growth can be improved and feed is cheaper, for example through the use of co-products, the economics of heavy pig production improve even further.

Mr Hazzledine, pig director, with Premier Nutrition Products, pointed out that, while the UK had increased its pig slaughter weight from 63.7 kg in 1989 to over 73 kg today, this was still way behind its international competitors. The Danes averaged 80 kg, the Dutch 93 kg, the French 88kg and the Canadians 89 kg. The USA weighed in with a hefty 98 kg.

The UK needed to address the poor growth record among its finishers - 700 g per day compared with almost 900 g per day achieved by the Danes. This was probably due to a combination of factors with health, low-appetite genotypes, old housing and the lower use of wet feeding being the most significant.

Mr Hazzledine therefore advised producers to consider restocking to improve health and exploit the potential of genetically-improved pigs.

"The differences between genotypes increase at higher weights. Early-maturing genotypes can see a marked fall in growth and an unacceptable increase in P2, and are less suitable for heavy pig contracts."

He also stressed the importance of using two, or preferably three, feeds during the growth period with adequate amino acid concentrations. "We have to allow an extra 26 per cent of lysine in the UK just to account for lower appetite," he said.

Producers should also consider carefully the complex heavy pig contracts offered by abattoirs. These could employ as many as 35 weight/P2 combinations. "The devil is in the detail. In one example, a 91 kg deadweight boar was worth 321 less than a pen-mate just 1 kg lighter!" Producers must seriously consider weighing their pigs before dispatch as their weights increase in order to minimise these penalties, he suggested.

Source: JSR Genetics - 17th September2003

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