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Farm-specific diets

For growing/finishing pigs, that is – and the concept is a major revolution in the way to buy the feeds for them. Important enough to devote 3 of my `What the Textbooks Don`t Tell You` columns to explain the reasons, the costs, and the benefits from changing to this improved method of buying growing/finishing food. The textbooks so far seem to be coy in covering the subject.

 Many grow-out producers are buying food from the feed compounder’s price list. Nothing wrong with that – they are competently designed by experienced pig nutritionists. But – and it is a big but - they are formulated to meet the average nutritional needs of , usually three bands of weights between weaning and slaughter.
 
However, they have to be compromises and do not take sufficient account of the differences of environmental management, gene lines and internal temperature gradients between individual farms, as well as differences in immune competence over quite short periods of time on the same farm. Every farm is different to that of its neighbour – or from the best and worst performers revealed at the pig discussion group, for that matter. The past 5 to 7 years have revealed how big these differences are and more recently, how quickly they can change. The nutritionist also can reformulate so as to change the daily nutrient intake and so keep pace with them, which itself lowers cost as the nutrients are more efficiently used over time.
 
Over the past 5 years these on-farm differences have been noticed and measured when the same food is offered. Nutritionists realise that dietary averages/compromises are just not on these days as nutritional knowledge gets increasingly precise . `Precision Nutrition`. So a diet can be constructed which takes account of these on-farm variables – providing the nutritionist has certain information which enables him/her to match the expected conditions under which the food is to be fed.
 You need to read these articles as they explain what information is needed (not too much), what the extra costs have been (not a lot), what are the likely results over what you are doing now (quite impressive) and what the payback over costs has been (comforting) - all from producers who have done the necessary.

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