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Re-Formulation Offers Potential Added Savings

by 5m Editor
29 November 2008, at 7:13am

CANADA - Research conducted at the Prairie Swine Centre near Saskatoon shows that re-evaluating production objectives and re-formulating swine rations will probably add a few extra dollars to the farm's bottom line.

A combination of low live hog prices, resulting from an over supply; high feed grain costs, resulting from increased demand from the alternative fuel industry; and the impact of a strong Canadian dollar has squeezed profitability and forced hog producers to seek every possible opportunity to save on production costs.

Pork Industry Symposium Looks at Feeding Programs

Balancing the Pig and the Dollar: Getting Value from Your “In-Barn Feed Management,“ was one of the topics explored last week (November 19) in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2008.

“Feed alone is the single most important cost to getting a pig to the market,“ says Prairie Swine Centre research scientist Dr. Denise Beaulieu.

Feed can account for anywhere from 55 to 60 percent of the total cost of production.

Producers Take Action to Address Feed Costs

Dr. Beaulieu acknowledges, over the past 24 months, producers have been looking closely at their feeding programs in an effort to reduce costs and have certainly implemented many of the recommended practices. However, there are still additional opportunities.

“Each change, for example looking at their feeding budget, looking at the energy concentration in the diet, looking at reducing the crude protein content of the diet, individually they may not appear significant but added up each incremental change can make a large difference.“

Correct Energy Content Offers Potential Savings

Dr. Beaulieu suggests there are probably savings to be found by re-working the energy content of the diet.

“It would typically not pay to feed high energy diets that may maximize performance. Overall, producers need to re-evaluate their objectives. Maximizing performance, maximizing growth of the pig is probably no longer the most economic objective to pork production. They need to look at some way of maximizing net income from their entire farm in terms of maximizing the efficiency of their feeding program.“

Phosphorous Reduction Offers Dual Opportunities to Save

“For example,“ Dr. Beaulieu explains, “Reducing phosphorous in the diet or the use of a phytase enzyme may lower feed costs only slightly. But, if that producer is paying extra to have phosphorous output in the manure spread onto fields, the cost savings then can be significant. The effect on diet alone is not the only thing to look at. They have to look at it in terms of the total farm, in terms of the total net income of that farm.“

Phosphorous is the second or third most costly nutrient fed to the pig.

“There's no reason any longer to over feed phosphorous,“ Dr. Beaulieu insists.

She notes, replacing phosphorous from inorganic sources with different phytase enzymes resulted in savings of up to ten dollars per tonne in some diets and that doesn't consider the savings of reducing phosphorous output in the manure which can be even more significant.

Split Sex and Phase Feeding Recommended

Formulating diets that match the nutritional requirements of the pig according to its sex and or its stage of growth offers another potential opportunity to maximize feeding efficiency.

“We phase feed to avoid either under feeding or over feeding to a group of pigs. The smaller our group of pigs, the more accurately we can match the nutrient requirements of those pigs to the diets,“ Dr. Beaulieu explains.

The sexes, males and female, barrows and gilts grow at different rates and their nutritional needs change over time.

“However,“ she stresses, “Phase feeding has to be matched with the practicality of a farm, for example, bin space and labour to feed those pigs.“

Feeding Equipment Offers Savings Opportunities

Equipment can also play a significant role in feed efficiency.

“For example we would recommend reducing particle size to 650 to 700 microns. That improves digestibility but might also cause more wear and tear on the equipment used to reduce that particle size,“ says Dr. Beaulieu.

“Pelleting increases feed efficiency as well. However pelleting of feed is expensive. So the equipment being used has to be considered in the overall equation when looking at ways to implement the feed program.“

“Feeder design can significantly affect feed wastage,“ she adds. However, she cautions, “For a farmer to go in and replace his feeders would be prohibitively expensive but, as those feeders become worn out and require replacing, he can look at perhaps a new feeder design.“

Small Changes Add Up

“Small details do count,“ says Dr. Beaulieu. She encourages re-evaluation of diets and re-consideration of the objectives of the feeding program.

“It probably is no longer adequate to just maximize growth or maximize protein deposition. You have to look at your feeding program in terms of the net income and the net objective from the overall farm.“

“Though making single changes may not seem to make significant differences,“ she concludes, “The changes are incremental and they will add up.“