Dr Ioannis Mavromichalis
In my last blog, I discussed non-nutritional ways of
addressing the problem of high cereal prices. Now, it's time for nutritional
suggestions. After all, feed used to make up at least 60% of the cost of raising
a pig. Now, it is even higher!
In my last blog, I discussed non-nutritional ways of addressing the
problem of high cereal prices. Now, it's time for nutritional suggestions. After
all, feed used to make up at least 60% of the cost of raising a pig. Now, it is
So, to start with, the general idea is to improve the
feed-to-gain ratio, or feed efficiency. Anything that reduces the amount of feed
required per unit of weight gain is reducing feed cost per unit gain! Here is a
list of my suggestions for your consideration.
It has been determined by pioneering work done at Kansas State University by Dr
Joe Hancock's laboratory that for every 100 microns reduction in particle size,
feed efficiency improves by 1.4%.
As an example, assume that you grind
your cereals at 900 microns (medium-coarse) and you achieve a 2.9 feed/gain
ratio in the finishing barns. If particle size is reduced to 600 microns, feed
efficiency is expected to be improved by 4.2% at 2.68.
Of course, this
improvement in feed efficiency should not be outweighed by the cost of grinding
cereals to such reduced particle size!
am considering enzymes against the major non-starch polysaccharides found in
cereals, especially in wheat (arabinoxylans) and barley (beta glucans). Data for
maize-based diets are unclear, at best!
But, for diets based on wheat
and barley, particularly if these cereals are of poor quality (as defined by a
large concentration of non-starch polysaccharides), the addition of a
cereal-specific enzyme should increase metabolizable energy concentration by
about 50 kcal/kg complete feed.
Effects on protein digestibility are not
so well documented, so it's recommended to base your calculations on energy
savings alone. Again, the cost of using such an enzyme should not be outweighed
by the cost of providing a similar amount of energy through other sources (lard,
tallow, soy oil, etc).
suffer from lower performance when fed diets even with low levels of mycotoxins.
It is best to determine the predominant mycotoxins for the cereals you
use and then apply a specific product, instead of using a blanket approach that
usually costs more and does not cover region-specific mycotoxin
For example, maize from the Americas is often contaminated by
aflatoxins, but maize grown in Europe usually suffers from a host of totally
This is easier said than
done as it requires the use of a growth model to compare nutrient requirements
versus nutrient supply. And, this is the first step!
Then, a qualified
nutritionist is required to assess the changes needed to match the two together
in an effort of cutting cost by reducing excesses, covering deficiencies, or
preferably both. INRA (France)
has recently released such a growth-nutrition model (InaPorc), which appears to
be quite promising, especially in the hands of a qualified
Yes, pelleted feed is most likely to
improve feed/gain by 5 to 15% depending on diet nutrient composition,
ingredients used, and of course, the weight class of the animals.
example, greater improvements are expected in younger animals. As always, the
extra cost of pelleting should not be greater than expected benefits, especially
now that the price of fuels is extremely high!
Usually this is the first solution that comes in mind when
cereal prices go up. But, unless you lock in a large quantity of such
alternatives before the market adjusts, it is highly unlikely such ingredients
will remain price competitive for long.
It is a fact in economics, when
the prices of reference ingredients increase, the prices of alternative also
increase just below the point where the use of the such alternatives is no
longer financially rewarding.
Based on current market 'intelligence', I
believe we have already reached such balance, so cereal alternatives are not so
But, as I constantly receive a number of requests
about them, I think it is best to talk about alternatives more extensively in
the next blog!
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