The results of a three-year trial confirm previous theories that altering pig diets more frequently than the standard industry practice can improve feed conversion and lower feed cost per pound of gain, according to Feedlogic Corp.
The study demonstrates the value of blending feed on farm to more closely match the dietary requirements of pigs. The trial was conducted at a 1,200-head commercial hog finishing site in Minnesota and showed a net improvement in profitability of over $3.75 per marketed pig by blending feed versus feeding standard phase diets. The savings came primarily from a reduced feed cost per pound of gain. They also provide strong evidence that the blending does not come at the cost of carcass premiums.
More than 12,000 pigs were involved in the trial over a total of 10 turns. The trial facility was set up with a FeedSaver blending system which allowed half of the pigs (approx. 600 head) to be fed the standard phase diets and the other half to receive a blend of two standard diets – typically the first and fourth diets used in the standard phase program.
Feed for both groups was weighed through the FeedSaver system, allowing an accurate comparison of feed consumption between the groups. The blended diets were changed with every 10 lbs/head of consumption; the phase diets as per the standard feed budgets.
Other standard protocols followed through the trial:
• All pigs placed at the same time and sorted evenly between pens (24 pens per group). The average weight of both groups was used as starting weight for all.
• Feed pricing was based on average delivered cost of diets for each turn.
• Both groups were fed an identical diet with Paylean (ractopamine) for the last 14 to 21 days of a turn, as per the standard procedure in the producer’s commercial system.
• Standard marketing procedures were followed – the largest pigs from either group were shipped first. Pigs from each group were tattooed separately to allow tracking of carcass data by group.
Key results from the trial:
• Feed conversion for the blend-fed group was 5% better than the control group (2.56:1 vs. 2.69:1).
• Blend-fed pigs averaged slightly better average daily gain (1.92 lbs vs. 1.89 lbs for the control group).
• Carcass yield, lean percentage, and backfat thickness were all virtually identical between groups.
• The average carcass premium per pig (which included sort loss) was $5.23 for the blend-fed group and $5.24 for the control group.
• Feed cost per pound of gain averaged $0.27 for the blend-fed group vs. $0.29 for the control group.
Aside from improving pig producer profitability, the blending concept demonstrated in the trial also has benefit to feed mills since it reduces the number of diets that need to be manufactured and simplifies the feed delivery process. The same diet can be stored in a feed bin for a longer period of time, making it easier for truck drivers to manage.