Balancing feed conversion (FCR) and weight gain is a vital aspect of successful pig production but is also a factor on which there appears to be no right or wrong answer according to a new analysis carried out by AHDB Pork.
Focusing on the performance of the GB pig herd during the year ending June 2015, based on the latest data from Agrosoft, the conclusion from AHDB Pork is that “each farmer needs to work out the optimum balance” for their own production system.
“FCR is an important performance indicator for producers, given its influence on production costs,” said AHDB Pork, adding that improvements seen over the last year were enough to reduce overall production costs by nearly 2p/kg (£1.30 per head), even with the current low level of feed prices.
To achieve the most efficient FCR, producers need to feed the pigs just enough so that they gain muscle weight but not excess fat. At the same time, however, optimising this could mean compromising on daily weight gain and, hence, extending the time taken to reach slaughter.
“The balance between FCR and daily weight gain is not clear cut,” said AHDB Pork. “On one hand, a low FCR means less feed cost but on the other, if it means slower weight gains, keeping the animals for longer can lead to higher fixed costs and will require more housing.
“While a low daily weight gain could mean that the producer has a good FCR, it could indicate that there may be an issue with herd management or health.
“There appears to be no right or wrong answer and each farmer needs to work out the optimum balance for him/herself.”