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Putting a Price on Faster Growth

by 5m Editor
31 January 2008, at 11:53am

UK - Improving growth rate in the finishing herd by just 70g per day could help hard-pressed pig farmers increase returns by 32.86 per pig. And that could add up to a benefit of more than 330,000 for the annual output from a 500-sow herd, says Ed Sutcliffe, Technical Director at ACMC.

Britain still lags behind most of the continental industries in this area and therefore has plenty of scope to improve, he points out.

"According to a BPEX survey, only one other country - Italy - reports its pigs as growing slower and this is largely influenced by production for the specialist Parma ham trade," he explains.

Growing pigs faster could save hard-pressed producers a considerable amount of money.

Increasing the average daily liveweight gain of British pigs from 655g to 727g - the difference between the 'average' and 'top 10 per cent' of herds quoted in the BPEX Pig Yearbook 2007 - over the 30kg-to-slaughter period could increase finishing weight by 7.7kg per pig. This extra saleable meat would improve returns by £6.55 per pig, increasing the margin by £2.86 after allowing for the cost of additional feed.

10-day Gain?

For farmers already taking pigs near to the limit of their contract weight, growing pigs faster would mean that they would reach their finishing weight 10 days earlier, reducing the cost of feed for maintenance. This would also have the advantage of increasing throughput, taking the pressure off housing space and allowing more time for cleaning and disinfection routines which are known to improve health and performance.
Ed Sutcliffe, ACMC's Technical Director

Other countries come to the UK for breeding stock because it has some of the most advanced genetics in the world, which includes traits for feed conversion and growth rates, so why do British pigs grow slower?

This is partly down to our more extensive systems and also due to the ageing housing and lighter UK slaughter weights, says Mr Sutcliffe. However, he also believes that many producers could improve growth rates simply by carefully monitoring throughput of pigs at each stage of the finishing system.

"Bottlenecks can easily occur at different production stages, when pigs get held up and are not moved on to the next housing phase at the right time. Ironing these out, by focused management, can go a long way to improving growth right the way through the system," he adds.

5m Editor