Feed is still the biggest on-cost you have to bear. When so many pig industries have their backs to the profit wall at this time, buying feed intelligently must be one of the most important management tasks you can employ.
It costs no more to do it well than casually, or just taking decisions on price as many do.
Pig nutrition is so precise these days. The link between the performance of your pigs – note, your pigs which are different to nearly everybody else’s, on grounds of environment, market requirements, management and immune status – is the nutritionist.
Overall he has more of an influence than the vet (used properly), the environmentalist (used once a year for a check-up) and the geneticist (used to provide a performance-potential background to all three).
Why is the nutritionist foremost?
In the best feed manufacturing firms, large or small, he has the influence with the buying and manufacturing departments, convincing them that the product design constraints he may have to recommend in the interests of your pigs are justified in terms of product performance and quality.
He cannot do this if you don’t provide him, as often as he requires it, (usually every eight weeks or so in my experience) with some absolutely essential information which I list below. Not having this information forces him to using ‘average’ assumptions which could be way adrift for your circumstances – and you will be the loser.
Good nutritionists tell me they are crying out for information from you on a regular basis. So what information?
Primarily, feed intakes. Simply…
• the average weight of the animals entering a department
• the average weight leaving the department
• the length of time they have been there
• the amount of food they have consumed
• and lastly, what the geneticist says they should be capable of doing.
Not for every batch on the farm - just those main blocks of pigs – the nutritionist will guide you on what he wants. And the more he gets to know your circumstances the less he will need on a regular basis, usually majoring on any changes you tell him about.
The first four come from your records on a regular basis and the last one, when needed, from your genetic supplier.
Does the nutritionist require any more information? He may do. Things like stocking density, health profile, environmental details, breeding stock bodyweight etc. Stand ready to supply what he asks for. Don’t overload him – just stick to what he wants.
Does this attention to detail pay?
First of all, it doesn`t cost much to provide it. Just a little time, trouble and discipline. Some figures from those of my clients who do this, before-and–after results… FCR (30-105 kg) improved by 0.1, daily gain by 52 g, and meat sold per tonne of feed (MTF) by 18 kg. The dietary cost rose in 8 cases by7% but the gross margin increased by 11%. In five cases the feed cost actually fell by 3% and the gross margin rose by 16%. The on-farm mixers did better than the complete feed buyers but from a lower performance base.
Please think about this and enter into a regular dialogue with your nutritionist. This is the modern way to buy pig feed!