10 May 1996

Buying group gives you control of ingredients

Buying group members know exactly whats in the feed they buy. Jessica Buss and Jonathan Riley continue farmers weeklys campaign for a full feed declaration policy

CLOSE control over ingredients used in pig rations is the major benefit of belonging to a feed buying group.

So says farmers weekly farms manager John Lambkin.

"As a member of a large feed buying group we can fix a ration contractually for three months. Rations are then analysed during the period and though variations are rare, they do occur.

"We can deal with this quickly, but this begs the question that if under a tight three-month contract variations can still occur, how much variation is there in a diet where there is no control from the producer?" says Mr Lambkin.

"It is virtually impossible to tell if a diet has been reformulated by looking at it and the first indicator of a change is a downturn in the pigs performance which is too late," he says.

As the buying group purchases from a position of strength diets are competitively priced, but the group also has the independence to design a ration which is best for its pigs.

"Rather than a standard formulation we can control the ration specification. For example, if we had a problem with colitis we could stipulate less soya," says Mr Lambkin.

The group sets out requirements choosing ingredients on a quality basis rather than on price alone and dropped meat and bonemeal from the ration a year ago. An independent nutritionist in consultation with the group then sets out the proportions and limits of each ingredient and tenders are sent out to compounders who can then quote on the same specification.

Mr Lambkin adds that this gives control over the diet which could provide information for the pigmeat buyer to pass on to customers.

Easton Lodge pigs benefit from full ingredient declaration of rations.