High cereal prices I

30-10-2007 | |
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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