Feed conversion ratio improves for rearing herd

The latest figures from Agrosoft for the 12 months toDecember 2020 have revealed slight improvements in the rearing herd performance, with the feed conversion ratio seeing a notable fall. In contrast, the finishing herd performance metrics returned to to 2019 levels.

Rearing herd (7-35kg)

Pigs at the rearing stage saw marginal weight gains per day in the 12 months to December 2020 compared to the previous year, with the daily liveweight gain (DLWG) for this period averaging 487g per day – 3g more when compared to the previous period.

The feed conversion ratio (FCR) also improved among the rearing herd, averaging at 1.71 – 0.12 less than in the previous 12-month period, meaning it took 120g less feed for each 1kg of weight put on by the pig. AHDB’s Bethan Wilkins pointed out that this may partially be a reflection of ‘particularly poor’ FCR in 2019.

Ms Wilkins said: “Pigs spent on average 64 days within the rearing unit, 4 days more than in the previous year. The improvements in feed efficiency mitigated most of the additional days spent in the unit in terms of feed requirement. Pigs at the rearing phase only recorded a 0.1kg increase in feed consumption, which averaged at 54.0kg.”

The increased daily growth and a longer time spent on the rearing unit resulted in a 2.06kg increase in the weight at the point of transfer, which averaged 38.5kg.

Finishing herd

Pigs at the finishing stage were also more efficient in the 12 months ending December 2020, with the FCR averaging at 2.67 – 0.01 less than in the previous year.

This did not, however, translate into an improvement in daily growth, as the daily liveweight gain averaged 856g/day – 4g less than in the previous year.

“Across the 12 months overall, pigs spent on average the same number of days within the finishing unit as 2019 (86 days). Although pigs were finished to a heavier weight, this was gained from the rearing rather than the finishing stage. Carcase weights averaged 85.8kg in 2020, 1.6kg more than in 2019,” Ms Wilkins explained.

Feed usage at the finishing stage was also similar to the previous year. For the 12 months ending December 2020, feed consumption at the finishing stage totalled 199.8kg – 0.2kg more than in the previous year.

Impact on costs

The improvements to FCR and DLWG at the rearing stage reduced productio ncosts by approximately 1.5p/kg in 2020 when compared to 2019, if all other performance metrics are kept at 2020 levels. On a per pig basis, this improved margins by about £1.30.

Ms Wilkins added that it is not always beneficial to margins to spend longer rearing pigs and taking them to heavier weights, but that the average figures for 2020 suggest that the heavier carcase weights led to lower production costs on a per kg basis. She said: “If the 2019 pattern of rearing/finishing weights had been followed, average costs would have been 1.2p/kg higher. On a per pig basis, this would have lowered the average margin by £1.20/pig.”

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