Value of Feed Conversion in Finishing Pigs

4 December 2013, at 12:07pm

DENMARK - The top 25 per cent of farms in Denmark can achieve around DKK12 (Danish Krone) per pig through careful weaning management compared to the average Danish pig farm, writes Chris Harris.

The most important aspect of the production unit to manage is the feed conversion rate, according to Kristian Jensen from the pig Advisory Service of Mid Jutland.

For the top 25 per cent of farms in Denmark, feed conversion can be worth DKK9 per pig from the weaning unit while reducing mortality in the unit by just under half a per cent compared to the average farm can be worth about DKK1 per pig and the greater weight at sale, which can be around 1kg more than on the average farm in Denmark, can be worth DKK2 more.

Mr Jensen, said that when the pigs are then taken into the finishing unit similar productivity gains are seen in the top 25 per cent of farms in Denmark and these gains are achieved by first ensuring that the pigs are started well in the unit.

He said that special attention needs to be taken to the cleanliness of the unit as well as the temperature that the pigs are going to be received into

“The pens need to be clean and dry. If you have to dry out the pens with the pigs in them, the pigs will dry them out and the fuel for that is feed,” Mr Jensen told a recent seminar in Herning, Denmark.

“You need new fresh water in the feeder and you need to eliminate bacteria and to give the pigs a good start, you need to leave some time between the old ones leaving and the new ones coming in.”

He said that to have a good start at finishing the pigs need a good start at weaning and they should start at about 8kg rather than lower weights because of the cost of feed to build them up.

Reducing the costs of feeding is one of the main ways when it comes to finishing pigs to build up a greater margin so the type of feed and how it is fed are issues that need particular attention.

For example, Mr Jensen said that there is a difference in the daily weight gain of the finishing pigs according to whether the feed is coarsely or finely ground.

He said that there is a better weight gain with finely ground feed and while it might not be the total solution, he said it goes a long way to improving pig profits. By producing a better feed conversion ratio, the best pig farmers in Denmark can achieve up to DKK24 per kilo more than other farmers.

The feed conversion ratio for the top farms is 2.67 – feed units for weight gained – compared to 2.86 for the average farms.

The aim should be to have 75 per cent of the ground pelleted feed under 1mm, Mr Jensen said.

He added that is it important also to ensure that the slower growing pigs are given access to more feed and to monitor progress all the time to ensure that they catch up with the faster growing pigs.

After feed conversion, Mr Jensen said it is also important for the farmer to concentrate on the mortality rates in the herd as this can also be worth around DKK5.5 more per kilo in the finished pig.

And achieving a slightly higher slaughter weight also adds value to the pig.

“Feed in the finishing unit is as important as it is in the weaning unit, but it is also important for finishing pigs to have a good start, just as it is for weaners,” Mr Jensen said.