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.
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!!!