Targeted nutrition reduces the cost of production

18 Feb 2019

With the growing pressures inherent within today’s pig industry, never has it been more important to optimise efficiencies on farm, as we attempt to improve production at the same time as promoting the health and well-being of our livestock.

In order to improve efficiency, we first of all need to have a clear understanding of current performance; and the pig industry already has a good history of recording and using data to realise benefits on farm. The potential of this intelligence can only be fully realised, however, by seizing the opportunity to bring about improvements, and one significant area in which health and performance benefits can be driven is through nutrition.

A tailored and targeted approach to nutrition looks at the system on farm in a holistic manner, evaluating all factors that might impact on performance and then advising on ways in which it can be improved. The production of bespoke rations tailored to farm objectives (as opposed to a one size fits all approach) is gaining in popularity as a way to improve both the health and performance of the modern pig unit. This method of feeding means that different rations can be developed for animals at different stages of the production cycle, and they can be tweaked on a regular basis responding to changes in performance. An on farm mill and mixing machine, like the Harbro Tropper allows for flexible pre-designed targeted rations to be developed, with the secondary benefits of using home grown cereals and reducing bought in feed costs also significant advantages. The home-produced or purchased raw materials are routinely subjected to QC so that a clear understanding of their contributions can be made thereby avoiding inefficient deployment of expensive nutrients.

The system allows for the production of a consistent grist size and structure, specified to suit on farm preferences for freedom of flow. Additives and minerals to optimise gut health can also be easily included, which is essential for the development of a healthy and productive animal. Increased gut health has been shown in many cases to have a clear knock on effect in enabling farms to reduce their antibiotic consumption, with one business having saved over £30,000 p/a through antibiotic reduction (this equates to a Vet Med cost saved per deadweight kilo sold of 6.3 pence.) This same improvement in gut health has also been attributed as contributing to a reduction in vice by some vets.

The development of bespoke rations also offers a solution to industry wide problems with the inclusion of unique products helping to boost pig immunity and minimise stress. For units looking to reduce ammonia emissions or decrease the presence of salmonellae in the supply chain, bespoke rationing has also been proven to be of significant assistance in these areas.

As well as improving the health of the herd, a targeted nutrition approach has also been seen to drive increases in feed digestibility and feed conversion, with some top performers managing to achieve an FCR of 2.22 in their finishing units, from weaning to 80+kg deadweight.

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