The benefit of Farm Specific Diets

The Farm Specific Diet (FSD) concept is based on the truism that every pig farm is different, writes John Gadd. Moreover even on the same farm things can change affecting performance of the growing/finishing pig every three months or so.

Matching nutrient specs to each farm’s circumstances must be a better way of purchasing feeds than buying off a price list, but how is it done? If the feed manufacturer receives some easily measured growth-rate figures from their customer’s office records every few weeks – no need to go out and weigh things – then a diet more closely attuned to the actual farm circumstances can be made – rather than buying a standard ration that must always be a compromise to suit the majority.

Results after switching to FSD diets have shown a increase in MTF (saleable Meat from each Tonne of Food fed) averaging 10kg (range 7 to 19 kg), even after the feed manufacturer’s increased costs passed on to the customer are deducted. Not bad for a little more effort! That’s equivalent to £17 off a tonne of growout feed.

Of course, this approach raises a couple of questions:

1. Will the move to FSD mean the end of the feed salesperson?

Eventually, yes. With FSD the feed is not sold on price; the price – high or low – will always be the right one for the pigs for which the feed is intended. Price will only occur as a sales advantage if one manufacturer can operate a FSD system just as effectively as the opposition, but more economically.

Discussions with three go-ahead feed compounders suggest that as more of their customers switch to FSD, then the expensive sales and marketing force can be gradually reduced, with perhaps a quarter of them retrained as data collectors/supervisors. One firm has done some estimates on what this might save them and thinks it could reduce selling costs by a third.

2. The Future. Will FSD combined with Computerised Wet Feeding (CWF) simplify the feed manufacturer’s problems?

Of course. CWF, already well-established on pig farms (one manufacturer has already installed over 5000 units world-wide), lends itself to the regular alteration of the nutrient balance demanded by the FSD concept, as just by pressing buttons on the farmer`s console the formulation can be changed in seconds.

This means that the farmer can make the changes on instruction from the nutritionist’s office, and the feed compounder doesn’t have to do anything. I foresee the time when the mill need only manufacture a few basal diets that can be adjusted to meet the needs of the latest individual FSD formulations advised by the mill’s nutritionist. This will save the feed mill large sums of money by reducing manufacturing costs through fewer and longer production runs, and less warehousing.

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About The Author

John Gadd, who has spent 60 years' involvement in pig production, has had more than 2,800 articles about pigs published and has written three best-selling pig textbooks. With hands-on experience that includes managing a grow-out herd at 1,800ft in Banffshire, Scotland, and 20 years in the allied industries with Boots' Farm Department, RHM Agriculture and Taymix, he set up his own international pig management consultancy in the mid 1980s and has now visited more than 3,000 pig units in 33 countries as a pig management adviser. (Photo courtesy Bournemouth Daily Echo)