Expert opinion

Clever swine producers always think twice

High prices? Foreign animal diseases? There are plenty of reasons to e.g. quickly change pig diets. Sometimes, however, it is not a bad idea to look at things from various angles before making the decision to do something. Nutrition technology expert Dr Casey Bradley explains why.

Over the last year I have seen a lot of ‘panic’ in the swine industry and in my life and career. When making decisions, people can have several different approaches: a knee-jerk reaction in which they react based on the current situation without much thought to consequences of the decision; and the polar-opposite in which a person researches, gathers insight, and thoroughly examines the risks associated with a decision. Depending on the decision either type, somewhere in between can work out just well or not.

Taking a moment to reconsider the consequences of a decision is never a bad idea. Photo: 123RF
Taking a moment to reconsider the consequences of a decision is never a bad idea. Photo: 123RF

Facing a heavy downpour

For example, on a whim I did not pack my umbrella on a trip and faced a heavy downpour walking to my car from the airport. Maybe if I had researched the weather before leaving that week, I may have not have overlooked a perceived minor thing at that moment. On the other hand, I have been planning research facilities for my new position and future projects.

I have spent countless hours researching, gathering insights, and working to understand the needs and wants of my team and customers. I hope in the end that I have managed risks to create a very successful research program for the Northern America swine industry.

Both extremes in decision making for swine nutrition

When it comes to swine nutrition, I have seen both extremes in decision making. If market conditions for a specific ingredient get a little chaotic and due to tight supplies becomes expensive, many nutritionists do not seem to have a problem removing an ingredient from diets for a short period, without considering any scientific reasoning or concern of the associated risks.

However, when implementing a new feed additive into a nutritional programme, many nutritionists want to see a minimum of 3 positive trials, a minimum of a 3:1 ROI, and then run another 2-3 themselves before implementing. Why? Because if the feed additive doesn’t bring value to their system and costs their company or customer a lot of money, their reputation and potentially their job is on the line. In the previous example, they look like heroes if they can save the company a lot of money with hopes of little risk.

Current concerns for the swine industry

I could discuss several current concerns in our industry from vitamin supply to foreign animal diseases that are creating tough decisions for the swine industry here in Northern America and around the world, but I am not going to open that ‘can of worms’. All that I ask my fellow nutritionists is to use your scientific training and methods to come to a decision.

Read more opinions from Pig Progress’ experts

Consider the facts, reach out to colleagues and experts for insight when making these important decisions. No matter who it is you are listening to; there is one common recommendation: Know your suppliers’ quality and biosecurity standards. If your supplier finds it difficult to provide quality and biosecurity standards, you may have your answer on who your trusted supplier should be for the future.

Well-being of pigs

It’s also important to consider the impact of the decision on the well-being of our animals in both the short term and long term. We must make the right decisions for our animals and ultimately our consumers.

Because the real risk of not doing your due diligence is that the cost to fix the new problem is greater than your short-term gains; whereas, leaving my umbrella at home I just looked like a drowned rat!

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