It’s hard work, but most hog farmers could save $2 to $3 per hog on feed costs, Greg Simpson, provincial pork industry nutritionist, told the annual meeting of Ontario Swine Improvement Inc. here recently.
Simpson said it requires trials that involve weighing pigs and feed, but experience with producers demonstrates that the savings can be achieved.
Feed is the biggest single cost of production, yet Simpson asked, “how many of you know how well your hogs grow and how they eat?”
There is a protein deposition curve which varies with genetics, he said, and knowing when pigs hit that peak is important to keeping feed costs down and achieving optimum marketplace returns.
Farmers also need to know the disease challenges their pigs are facing and their genetic potential, he said.
He referred farmers to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ website for information from the London Swine Conference of 2001 where a team of nutrition researchers from the University of Guelph provided the method for calculating lean gain.
Farmers will need a computer to determine the optimum combination of feed intake, carcass informat ion and growth curve, Simpson said.
“Continuous improvement is quite important,” he said and cutting feed costs will require co-operation among the farm owner and staff, the feed company and veterinarians.
He gave the example of one farmer he has been working with and who was able to improve average daily gains from 800 to 900 grams per day and to achieve greater lean yield.
Simpson also noted that he visits farms that have showering facilities for biosecurity, yet don’t use them.
He said some are not implementing phase feeding or splitting sexes for feeding, yet both of those management strategies are proven ways to lower feed costs and improve hog performance.
Keeping feeding equipment in good order reduces feed waste, he said, adding that he sees a lot of duct tape repairs.
“It’s supposed to be temporary, guys!”