A recent trial conducted by JSR Genetics has revealed it’s possible to take pigs to heavier weights without having a negative impact on profit margins.
The research, which was initiated by JSR and Yorkshire Farmers, was intended to help customers improve efficiency on their own units and involved a group of 200 gilts and boars at one of the company’s commercial finishing units. The trial began in the third quarter of 2012 and lasted for three weeks.
JSR’s head of science, Stephen Waite, said the firm wanted to prove that taking pigs to higher weights was cost-effective and could be profitable.
“The animals were from our own Geneconverter 600 sireline onto our Genepacker 90 gilt and they were fed a standard final-stage finisher ration,” he said. “While half of the animals were shed off at 104kg liveweight, the remaining pigs were left on-site for a further three weeks.
“These animals achieved an average 120kg liveweight, which gave a gain of about 12.6kg deadweight from the slaughterhouse.”
Researchers recorded the weights of the first 100 pigs sent to slaughter, and from then recorded the feed used until the remaining animals were weighed and sent to slaughter.
The results show that despite the long-standing myth that the feed conversion rate at this stage would be over 4.1, it was actually about 3.2, making the net margin per pig £4.80.
“We’re always working to increase profitability for our customers by improving on the genetic traits that govern feed efficiency,” Mr Waite added. “The results were really very encouraging as they show that taking these pigs to heavier weights doesn’t necessarily mean a dip in profits, and that the work we’re doing to improve feed efficiency is giving us the gains we expected.”