Fine-tuning finisher diets can save thousands of pounds

Now that many pigs are being taken to heavier weights, there are further opportunities for farmers to make savings in feed costs by tailoring diets more accurately to the genetic capability of the pig, according to ACMC geneticist Ed Sutcliffe.

Results from hundreds of pigs individually tested using the company’s sophisticated FIRE (Feed Intake Recording Equipment) system at its Oakwood nucleus unit in Yorkshire have shown that moving from a single diet to three diets — designed to deliver the required nutrient intake at specific growth phases beyond 45kg — can give savings of up to £1.98 per pig.

“This would be worth more than £23,000 in a 500-sow herd rearing the BPEX average of 24 pigs/sow/year on an indoor unit,” Mr Sutcliffe said.

He looked at diets for three different growth periods: a grower ration between 45kg and 60kg; a finisher 1 ration between 60kg and 80kg; and a finisher 2 diet between 80kg and 100kg liveweight. With the input from a nutritionist, diets were formulated to match the potential of the pig in each of the three growth stages. It was found using the two additional diets produced cost savings compared to feeding a single diet over the whole growth period.

“If we’re correctly supplying nutrients at 45kg then, by the time the pigs are 80kg, there’s an imbalance since they are increasing their nutrient intake by 55%, but their requirement for growth is only 25%,” Mr Sutcliffe said, noting that cheaper diets with lower digestible energy and lysine could be used during the final two stages of finishing, saving up to £25/t on the cost of feed.

“The principles of feeding multiple diets through the growing and finishing stages are not new and are employed in some production systems,” he added. “However, with increasing slaughter weights we should be adding further finisher diets, particularly at the latter stages where the greatest savings are to be made.

“With feed prices still high and representing 63% of total costs of production, this is a timely reminder of the value linking nutrition to the genetic potential of the pig.”

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