PRIMGHAR, Iowa — Swine producers are paying more attention to feed efficiency to reduce the impact of high feed cost.
Feed costs are high because the price of both corn and soybean meal have increased dramatically. A few years ago, Iowa State University was part of a multi-state research project that studied various influencing management issues that can improve feed efficiency. One of the outcomes of that research project was a list of publication fact sheets that discuss ways to enhance feed efficiency. The fact sheets can be found at: https://www.ipic.iastate.edu/sfe/publications.html.
The first paper on the list, written by Dr. John Patience, gives a great overview of how complicated feed efficiency can be and examples of areas to manage more diligently during times when feed prices are high. Dr. Patience states, “The value of one feed conversion point varies between 30 and 50 cents. At an average feed cost of $350/ton, it is worth 46 cents per pig. As feed cost changes, so too does the economic value of feed efficiency.” He continues “All other factors being equal, the best feed efficiency may lead to the best net income” as he points out that many factors are not equal when comparing one closeout to another. Patience elaborates that although feed efficiency is commonly used in decision making, mistakes can be made because interpreting feed efficiency can be over-simplified.
There are many variables that influence feed efficiency. Patience continues to explain the physical and social environment in the barn regarding the pig’s comfort zone. Additionally, pig factors such as entry/exit weight, health, growth rate, lean yield, genetics, and mortality can influence feed efficiency. For example, mortality will lower feed efficiency more if the deaths happen late in the finishing period.
During this time of high feed cost, various technologies that impact feed efficiency should be re-evaluated for cost return analysis. The Iowa Pork Industry Center has fact sheets available to help producers evaluate possible changes. Consider genetic impact, particle size of feed, pelleting, temperature comfort zone, target market weight, feeder management, amino acids, and sow farm feed efficiency as the major considerations. Check out the web site at https://www.ipic.iastate.edu/sfe/publications.html click ‘Fact Sheets’ or call and discuss options with your Extension Swine Field Specialist.
— Dave Stender, Swine Specialist
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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