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Improve Feed Conversion to Cut Costs

24 July 2012, at 8:09am

UK - With feed costs rocketing, improving feed conversion (FC) has never been more important. Pig producers could save nearly 39 per pig by improving their finishers’ feed efficiency by 0.54. This might be a staggering figure but it is well within the realms of practicality, says Matthew Curtis, managing director of Yorkshire-based pig-breeding company, ACMC Ltd.

BPEX Pig Yearbook 2012 shows that while the FC for ‘average’ feeding herds is 2.82 the top 10 per cent manage 2.28. “If the figure for the average herds is 2.82, then this means there are many herds below that figure, so there is still plenty of scope for improvement,“ he commented.

He points out that with feed at the 3261.83 per tonne figure quoted in the Yearbook, if a 500-sow herd, producing 22 pigs per sow a year, improved from average to the top 10 per cent it would save nearly 399,000 annually in feed costs. In reality, the savings could be much higher as the price of feed has risen substantially — and is likely to continue to rise.

Apart from paying attention to management, housing and nutrition, Mr Curtis suggests a direct route to improving feed conversion is to use high-quality semen from, ideally, a nominated AI boar. Not only should these be selected on their EBVs (Estimated Breeding Value) but they should also be chosen from boars which have a history of selection for feed efficiency — not just growth.

While he acknowledges that pig producers are grossly under-paid for their end product and the industry is working to increase returns, he points out that improving feed conversion is something which farmers can actually do themselves.