4457 views 8 commentslast update:May 6, 2009

It's no brain science!

Ioannis Mavromichalis
I had recently finished revising a new customer's feeding program and I could not stop thinking how it had been possible for even the most simple nutritional principles to have been violated. I am not talking here about the 'fine print' of nutritional science, but for simple stuff, found in any college textbook. To give an example, everybody knows gestating sows need a source of fibre or at least a laxative, but none of these were used. Or, even worst, where it is common knowledge for lysine concentration to decrease as pigs grow heavier and heavier, in this program lysine concentration remained constant; and no, genetics were not pure Pietrain!

So, I inquired on the 'designer', if you please, of that nutritional program, just out of curiosity for the source of such gross negligence. I was told it was done by the technical department of XYZ company (name is not important, it's the concept that matters), a well-respected name in the nutrition industry, offering 'free' nutritional support to their customers who bought the physical products. A common theme in many parts of the world!

Now, I happen to know first-hand, that this specific nutritional supplier does not employ not even one nutritionist! Yet, they sell their 'nutrition' throughout many countries. And, they are not the only example. Can anyone imagine being treated for a serious illness in a hospital without doctors, where nurses and administrative staff perform operations? And yes, when nutrition is responsible for at least 60% of all production expenses, you better find the best 'neurosurgeon' for that 10,000-sow enterprise!

So, what happens? Simply, some nutritional suppliers, selling either premixes, ingredients, additives, or complete feeds have found it advantageous for their image and marketing efforts to offer 'free' nutritional advice for matters that don't pertain directly to their products. Nothing wrong really with that!  But things are not so clear-cut when this information does not always translate into the most efficient or profitable solution.

Why?
Because, anything that comes free, comes at a cost! Cost for the producer, who loses profitability, and cost for the provider who has to pay someone to offer this service. But, the provider is taking into account this extra expense in the price the customer pays for the products he or she buys. Trust me, they do! So, it's not so free, after all. The real problem comes when some nutritional suppliers in an effort to minimise their cost, hire the least expensive technical personnel to provide this 'free' service. Then, pigs can fly!

Should we say more?
So, if I may say it again, be aware of what is given out as free, especially when it is hard to place a value on it, like information! There is nothing wrong using free nutritional information coming from your providers, but better check beforehand with them to see who is going to 'perform' the operation. It's your business after all!!!
 

8 comments

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    clarisa

    Validation of information is really necessary. We don't have to just absorbed all the the info provided to us. And also getting the advice of other technical or experienced people is an additional help.

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    Dr. Nikolaos Kotrotsios

    I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, this is a common phenomenon in our country and I could mention a lot of cases about this. At least, at this moment, we should respect the producer is facing the problems of global financial crisis. Take care!

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    Horacio Baldovino

    I need ask Dr Mavromichalis about a common problem in some farms that i visit. I see frecuently Zenker degeneration in myocardio in animals that are eating a diet well formulated, with gods levels of E vit y Sel. What may be the cause of this simptoms?
    sorry by my english
    Thank you

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    Theo

    Your article reminded me of a famous professor that turned advisor, and ended up advising very impractical diets that cost his client, impressed by academic credentials, a lot of money. Wouldn't the best solution be to work with an organization that has both strong technical and strong practical experience as we can learn from both?

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    To Clarisa and Nikolao, thanks for your contributions!

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    To Horacio, it would be best to refer to a veterinarian as such professional would be more qualified to answer your question.

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    To Theo, I could not agree with you more! Unfortunately, we both know very well that such organizations are hard to find these days and even then, their expertise is concentrated in a handful of select people. This certainly reinforces the notion of making sure that 'he who brings sensitive information to the farm is qualified enough for this privilege', regardless of his own name or that of his company, both of which can easily be inflated by clever marketing. I am sure you could share many such examples from your own organization!

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    To all: There is no reason why one could not use more than 20% of rice in a piglet feed.
    In theory and practice, all-rice diets for piglets are very beneficial!
    The 10-20% range is not a limitation, but rather a suggestion, based on the fact that rice is usually more expensive than other cereals.
    The higher the quality of rice, and it's derivatives, the higher the inclusion level possible.

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