6 commentslast update:Nov 1, 2007

High cereal prices I

Dr Ioannis Mavromichalis
High cereal prices are here to remain. At least, for some time, or until fuels stop competing against humans for food and feed energy! So, after accepting we have to deal with high cereal prices in animal feed, what is left to do?

High cereal prices are here to remain. At least, for some time, or until fuels stop competing against humans for food and feed energy! So, after accepting we have to deal with high cereal prices in animal feed, what is left to do?

For your consideration, I can offer the following recommendations regarding nutritional and non-nutritional strategies to tackle this problem. Let's start with the easier non-nutritional solutions, leaving the nutritional issues for the next installment of this blog…

1. Buy more or buy longer
It makes sense to assume that increasing purchasing power either by increasing volume per transaction or the duration of a purchasing contract, lower prices per unit of weight are to be commanded.

Back in 2004, when these troubles were just surfacing, several producers had already made ten-year contracts with cereal producers to lock in prices ahead of the forthcoming crisis!

2. Sell sooner
Pigs tend to deposit more and more fat once the protein deposition potential peaks. This affects adversely the feed/gain ratio, meaning that weight put late in life is not as efficiently gained as weight earlier on.

It is just a matter of fact due to the greater energy required to deposit one gram of fat compared to one gram of lean tissue!

To find the optimal market weight the use of a modern model can be of tremendous value, but on average feed/gain starts increasing rapidly after about 90 kg bodyweight.

3. Use leaner genetics
Through the same mechanism of depositing less fat, leaner genetics can offer feed cost savings! Leaner pigs cost less to produce and this solution might be as easy as switching the genetic make up of your terminal sire semen supply.

4. Reduce feed wastage
If around 25% of feed is wasted through poor management of feeders, feed, and pigs, it is now a golden opportunity to resolve this chronic issue by training personnel, fixing feeders, and reallocating feeders.

Each percentage unit wastage is reduced is a percentage unit savings in feed/gain ratio!

5. Improve animal health
It is no secret healthy pigs grow leaner and more efficiently compared with pigs of suboptimal health.

Malnutrition early in life is also 'compensated' by depositing more fat and organ tissue later when nutrition becomes normal again. So, it pays to keep animals healthy and thrifty!

6. Re-evaluate additives
This is quite simple. Additives should be evaluated based on return on investment. Usually, additives that improve growth below say 4% are difficult to justify during hard times.

Cast a critical eye on additives and question whether they really are worth the expense and trouble. Use only the ones that really work!


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    William Kanitz

    The high price of grain will lower the hog finished sale wt. by at least 40 lbs.No more 250lb hogs ,the new standard might just be 200-210
    as it dosen't pay to feed them any longer with high priced grain.I know your right Dr.

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    Dr Pinder Gill

    We have developed a Feeding Herd Calculator which can be used to estimate optimum slaughter weight at different costs, including feed costs. This can be found on the BPEX Website.

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    Nikos Linardos

    Dear Dr. Mavromchalis,

    I have one question on the use of leaner genetics: There is a negative genetic correlation of leaness and feed intake capacity; when the animals are becoming leaner the feed intake capacity is decreasing. Doesn't it lead to worser feed conversion (through increased maintenance needs for the longer growth period) if those traits are not well balanced?

    One other option to improve feed conversion is to have restricted feeding to the fatteners after the weight of 80/90 kgs where they start to deposit relatively more fat.
    It is worth noticing that for the healthier animals the feed restriction has to start earlier since they can reach their growth potential and also their maximum protein deposition ptential, much earlier than the "normal" health status animals.

    Nikos Linardos

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    Wayne Gowie

    Hi what is good to remove the bad smell from the pig pen please thank you 646-210-8866

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    Greg Sebald

    Dear Dr. Mavromchalis
    High feed prices causes people to look for alternatives.If you are close to an Ethanol plant or have other byproducts, do what the Europeans did......try liquid feeding. Big Dutchman has been liquid feeding for years and the experience is also already in
    Canada where 20% of the Ontario Hogs are liquid fed.
    The syrips that are byproducts of ethanol plants are as valuable as corn. whey from cheese plants, food processing like cereals gives an opportunity to use it as liquid. Pigs like it and feed cost are reduced without losing feed gain .
    Do like the Europeans did when feed cost went high.....liquid feed and think outside the box.
    Greg Sebald

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    William, you´re absolutely right!

    Pinder, this is an interesting tool..Thanks!

    Niko, fortunately leaner pigs make up for lower appetites by growing faster and more efficiently, so they reach market weight very rapidly. So, maintainance needs are actually lower compared to more traditional pigs. Restricted feeding, as you mention, is an excellent strategy to control growth and feed efficiency. It is more applicable in smaller enterprises unless a mechanized system is in place to feed pigs on a predetermined scale. Thanks for your excellent comments!

    Greg, liquid feeding is indeed an attractive option and producers should consider it now as a means of using less expensive liquid by-products. Excellent points. Thanks!

    Wayne, I am not sure your comment is relevant, but water and detergent should work!

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