Small savings can often lead to great profits. This is a real case, but with altered names, that demonstrates the point of how important feed cost is on overall profitability.

Peter is a British pig producer raising about 100,000 slaughter pigs per year. The last time anyone checked his feed formulas was in 2004, about when cereal prices were getting prohibitively expensive. We did the following changes to his feed program:

  • Added an alternative cereal source
  • Reduced crude protein levels by adding more feed-grade amino acids
  • Removed three outdated additives and included a new one
  • Redesigned the vitamin and trace mineral premix

Six months later, we looked at Peter’s slaughterhouse performance and, as expected, pigs were performing exactly as before. Even the feed efficiency index remained the same (as we did not alter the energy and protein dietary specifications). We had just done several small amendments to reduce feed cost and update the nutrition program.

Overall, feed cost per slaughter pig was reduced by just above 1 sterling pound, or 100,000 sterling pounds per year. Peter was able to verify this as he kept an eye on his feed bills. Thus, an insignificant savings figure of just 1 sterling pound per pig became a rather significant increase in profitability.

Usually, most producers will require a modification to their nutrition program to make their animals grow more, grow more efficiently or deposit less fat. This requires an adjustment to the nutrient profile, which can often bring about the desired result, but sometimes it incurs an extra cost that robs any benefits. In contrast, updating the ingredient part of formulations remains a forgotten practice, but it does have its own merit. If done carefully, it can result in small savings with huge potential, especially in operations that raise large numbers of pigs.