Calculating Energy Content of Swine Rations

CANADA - An international study indicates margins of error need to be built into net energy calculations when formulating rations for swine, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 24 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon in collaboration with the Universities of Illinois and Missouri looked at net energy systems used to calculate the energy content of feed ingredients when formulating swine rations.

The goal was determine whether genetic or environmental factors would influence the calculations.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, says research techniques were carefully duplicated to ensure accurate comparisons.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:

The maintenance, the requirement to maintain the animals was different between research centres.

Whether this is due to genetics or environment, we're not exactly sure but this certainly confounds our ability to estimate the energy retained in a feed.

We did find also that the net energy was affected by growth so it was affected both by where the animal was, the environment, perhaps the genetics but also the stage of growth of the animal.

So even if a producer is using, for example, the digestible energy system they may have to use different numbers depending upon the stage of growth of the animal that they're feeding.

We've known about that for some time, that we may not be able to use a single number for each feed.

This research certainly has demonstrated that again, that producers depending on where they are and or the stage of pig that they are feeding, they may have to use different numbers to predict the energy requirement of that feedstuff.

Dr. Beaulieu says, because the numbers are not precise, a margin of error is acceptable when formulating rations.

However she suggests, with the current economics, produces may be willing to use lower cost ingredients, estimate the energy content of those ingredients and accept slightly lower performance.

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