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Reducing the cost of pig feed (I)

We should focus on actions that are in our hands to try to improve the profitability of our farms.

Monday 16 January 2012 (7 years 10 months 28 days ago)

Part 1. Formulation and processing

We all know the importance of feed in production costs. In recent years the price of raw materials has followed an erratic pattern, making it difficult to anticipate its evolution. At the same time, the price of meat is not tied to raw materials, and this creates an imbalance difficult to face. Since these two points are complicated to act on from the standpoint of the producer, we must focus on those actions that are in our hands to try to improve the profitability of our operations.

Quality Control. It is important to have good quality control that allows a solid assessment of your ingredients, avoiding having to use large safety margins in formulas. Today there are technologies (NIR) that let you know the composition of a feed almost immediately.

Energy. Energy is the most expensive component of diet at this time. We know that dietary energy conditions the consumption of the animal. On the other hand, lysine is the first limiting amino acid, so having the lysine:energy ratio adjusted to our genetics, weight and sex is vital to reducing feed costs.

Figure 1. Effect of available lysine (g lysine available by MJ DE) on the conversion rate for females and intact males (± SEM) of the 22 to 53 kg live weight.

Effect of available lysine (g lysine available by MJ DE) on the conversion rate for females and intact males (± SEM) of the 22 to 53 kg live weight.

aAdapted from Moore and Mullan, 2010

Raw materials. Feed consumed by pigs weighing up to 15 kg can be expensive due to high-value ingredients, both nutritionally and economically. The use of these ingredients is not always justified. It can be a good time to revise and consider eliminating the inclusion of serum, fish meal, plasma, etc... (Landblom et al., 2001). It is possible that the cost-benefit at the moment doesn’t compensate for their inclusion.

Additives. Most additives have a positive effect on animal production but not all return the investment. Review the use of additives in different feed phases and use only those whose use entails a substantial economic and contrasted benefit (Pettigrew, 2006). It is also good to check where they are used; an additive may be profitable in the starter - transition phase, but not so in the fattening-finishing phase.

Increase digestibility. When the price of raw materials is high, it is important to get the most out of them. One way is by improving their digestibility. There are several ways to do this:

  • Decreasing particle size: A decrease in particle size improves the digestibility of certain materials, as shown in Table 1 (Goodband et al., 2002).

Table 1. Effect of particle size on apparent digestibility of corn and sorghuma

Particle size (microns) Dry material Protein Energy Conversion index
<700 86,1 82,9 85,8 1,74
700-1.000 84,9 80,5 84,4 1,84
>1.000 83,7 79,1 82,6 1,92

aAdapted from Ohh et al., 1983.

A decrease of 100 microns (in a range of no less than 600 microns to minimize the risk of gastric ulcers) may reduce the conversion rate by 1.2% (National Pork Board, 2011).

Two particle sizes in a mash.
Photo 1. Two particle sizes in a mash.

  • Granulation: Granulation may improve the digestibility of feed by 5-8% (Wondra et al., 1995, Amornthewaphat et al., 2000) leading to an improvement of the ADG and the CI.
  • Expander: the use of expander improves pellet quality and may improve the digestibility of raw materials, especially fibers, Table 2 (Traylor et al., 1998, Amornthewaphat et al., 2000).

Table 2. Pressure effects of the cone on the characteristics of diet and digestibility of nutrients in a diet based on middlings for pigs in the fattening phasea.

Cone pressure, psi
0 166 333 500
Electricity consumed, kWh/t
Total 25,5 33,8 43,6 60
Specific 0.3 8.5 18.3 34
Granulator 12.6 10.4 9.9 10
Total 38.1 44.2 53.5 70
Grain durability index, %
Standard 84.2 89.1 87 89.2
Modified 73 83.9 76.7 81.6
Gelatinazed starch, % 33.8 51.7 51.9 69.9
Apparent digestibility, %
DM 70 72.6 72.4 75.6
N 69.2 74.5 77.1 78.3
RE 69.8 73.8 74.5 77
RE diet, Kcal/lb 1233 1347 1357 1417

a Adapted from Traylor et al., 1998.

The use of expander, on the other hand, carries a high electricity cost and therefore will not always be profitable.

  • Additives: the use of phytase and other enzymes in certain grains has been shown to improve the digestibility of certain nutrients (Kornegay et al., 1996, Bedford et al., 1998). Even so, we must be careful not over-value these enzymes.
  • Digestible AAc: Formulating with digestible amino acids, digestible phosphorus and net energy is the best way to approach real needs for pigs and to optimize diet.

Feed Presentation. Numerous studies show that pelleted feed supply is an improvement of the ADG and the conversion rate with respect to flour (Potter et al., 20100, Wondra et al., 1995). However, pellet quality may determine the extent of this improvement.

Figure 2. Factors affecting the durability of granules.a

Factors affecting the durability of granules.

aAdapted from Hancock et al., 1996

The amount of fines in the feed trough should not exceed 20% (National Pork Board, 2011). Presentation of a liquid diet also supposes a significant improvement of both the digestibility and the conversion rate but its implementation requires a higher cost than the dry feed system.

Photo 2. Detail of dry hoppers.

Detail of dry hoppers.

Photo 3. Liquid feed system.

Liquid feed system.

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Article Comments

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22-Jul-2012FarmerSamFarmerSamFeed is the largest single cost item in producing pork. Since it accounts for 60 to
75 percent of the total cost, any saving on feed, though small, may greatly
reduce total cost and increase returns. Adjusting percentage of protein to weight
of the pig, varying the grain according to price and relative value, and determining
the cheapest sources of protein and supplements are management decisions that
will affect net returns. More than the wastages, swine farmer is faced with rising cost of livestock feeds.
This is primarily due to the fact that the great majority of backyard raisers
(representing 80% of Philippines total national output) adapted the so called
"modern ways" of raising such livestock. Commercial Livestock Feeds
manufacturer business model is designed to make their business turn a profit at
all times and never about the business welfare of its customers/clients (Farmers). Adopting local ingredient alternatives for the formulation of swine feed mix is the
only logical step for swine producers to remain profitable. There will be challenges
and obstacles like the material availability, farming, initial cost competitiveness,
handling and processing, and accurate formulation that must be overcome before
an alternative swine feed formula can be fully developed successfully. If the Swine Farmer cannot address the problems of swine feeds then the swine
farmer is sure to fail.
24-Jan-2014gatete ericgatete erici want full formulat if possible
21-Nov-2014Angelino AzurinAngelino Azurinvery informative lesson
12-Feb-2015ed gulleed gulleplease furnish me a catalogue the ingredients for swine feeds
27-Mar-2014moses victormoses victorwhere can i buy pigs food here in glasgow.
12-Mar-2016olalokene paulolalokene paulI have liked the side and it is a nice platform that help us to acquire skills about pig management
17-Apr-2016mannymannysir I really like to know about this business, but I don't have complete idea regarding the alternative homemade feed, anybody to help.please furnish me a catalogue the ingredients for swine feeds
24-May-2016Benjamin BaraBenjamin BaraTherr is the option of preparing pig meals by mixing premix(vitamins,nutrients plus enzymes) with maize crashes and soya meal..
01-Jun-2016Awoyefa teejayAwoyefa teejayFood formula
13-Aug-2016eria kabwereeria kabwereI really whant to know now to formulate feed for pigs. in my country we only have 4 raw feed stuffs, millrun, copra, fishmeal, and kernel or expella
01-Sep-2016Eddie ssoziEddie ssozigood information for development
27-Dec-2016benjobenjoUR article s really dissatisfying, discusses only on mineral/vitamins composition for feed intake.., y not present a simple and detailed local feed formulation to reduce feed intake expenses of local hograiser.., Lets say, y not present such as A = 1 kg + 5 kg B to come w/ complete and low financing expenses for us.., ur presentation s disgusting
18-Feb-2017Peter OgunkaPeter OgunkaI have only known of brewry waste, plantain peel and PKC for feeding my pigs and they take almoast 10 months for them to grow to market stage.
Please what do you advise i do.
18-Jul-2017bountyearth1910bountyearth1910Feeding are the major constraints we have in Nigeria we have all ingredients but the formulation or ration on every stage on pigs many farmers don't know, we feed our swine one particular feed from piglets to maturity. We will appreciate if we can educate more on these.thx
I had 3 pigs in a roll for service by boars. 2 were gilts and one was a sow. two gilts were served by one boar and the sow was served by a different boar.
Now, the situation is among the gilts, the one which was served first has not farrowed but the second to be served has farrrowed what could be the problem to the first one
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