Understanding Performance Over Cost

By Victoria Seip Eisses, Grand Valley Fortifiers

As both the hog and commodity markets continue to show great volatility and variability, feed budgeting is extremely important to make sure we are maximizing both the feed cost and performance of our commercial animals.

We continue to see rising feed prices which, in turn, has made us alter what we are feeding in order to maximize on ingredients and efficiency. Efficiency is key because as long as hogs are not backlogged, feed conversion is more important than ever.

In other words, the less feed we have to put into the animal to achieve the best possible gain will save us on the use of expensive commodities.

farmer pouring feed for pig
    Rising feed prices have made producers change their feed for maximum efficiency. -Jodie Aldred photo

The purpose of the following trial was to feed a “standard” budget we would see in commercial production fed by our companies across the country and compare that to a budget that would ideally save at least $1 per pig.

The following trial was conducted side by side with the small pigs of the weaning group sorted into one room.

The feed budget can be found in Table 1.

chart comparing feed and budget
   Table 1

The pigs were weighed at weaning, 14-days, 35-days and the completion of the trial.

The results based on the various days spent in the nursery can be seen in Table 2.

chart comparing trial cost and performance
   Table 2: Trial Cost and Performance Based on Trial Weighing Periods

These results show the effects of feeding a less costly budget based on the amount of starter (BioSure Respond) and transition feed (BioForce 180) compared to a more recommended practice with more starter and transition feed.

Although the Cost Savings budget achieved its goal of being less costly on a feed-cost-per-pig and cost per kg gain basis, the overall weight gain, ADG, FCR and margin over feed was less efficient than our standard budget.

So, the big question is, what does this really mean?

In a situation where health and management are very good, there may be a way to reduce feed cost by simplifying the budget by feeding less of these first two feeds. However, it is extremely important to recognize the impact it may have on the overall picture of raising a nursery pig. With almost 1 kg difference in end weight, that generally represents three days to market at the end of the finishing period. Assuming that the finishing animal is eating approximately 3.5 kg of the last stage feed, this has an implication on the overall bottom line for the farm as well – not only fewer days but additional feed cost.

Before looking at simplifying the budget by feeding less of the first two phases, I would recommend you discuss this with your swine sales representative.

There are several aspects to consider.

Are you willing to give up gain at the end of the nursery in order to reduce feed cost? What is your weaning weight? This will play a big part in starting your early weans off on the right foot.

On average, how is performance overall? Are your pigs hard to start on solid feed? What is the health status? These will both play an important part in how simple a budget can go because we need to make sure we support the growth and efficiency of the pigs to the best of our ability.

We can help reduce feed cost per pig by reviewing budgets which may become dependent on market conditions and a change of goals. We can also further discuss how this may impact herd performance and pig flow.

Victoria Seip Eisses holding a piglet
    Victoria Seip Eisses

For any questions on this trial or about nursery budgets, I would be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have for helping to increase efficiency and positively affect the bottom line for your farm. BP

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