Researchers explore links between slaughter weights and profitability

A new project looking at how much changing slaughter weights affects farm profitability is being launched by the Flemish Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO).

ILVO believe that examining the optimum slaughter weight of finishers is “timely research” given that current production margins are so small, a fact which means producers are very motivated to find profitable solutions.

The project will focus on the costs, revenues and environmental implications resulting from working with a range of slaughter weights. The search for the ideal slaughter weight, from a profit perspective, will involve looking at growth, feed intake, feed conversion and mortality. The relationship between carcass quality and slaughter weight will also be explored.

According to ILVO, changing target slaughter weights has an inevitable impact on the finishing period involved and, therefore, the number of pigs per year a unit can accommodate.

The Flemish project team said that finding the optimum slaughter weight is a matter of identifying the best combination of feed usage, piglet production per unit per year and final kilograms, all to secure maximum margins.

Project targets, set for delivery by 2018, include publishing ideal slaughter weights for an average Flemish pig farm, combining results into a series of optimisation models and producing a “calculating tool” to enable producers to calculate for themselves what slaughter weight to aim for.

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