17 May 2002

Cashing in on costs by using crimped wheat

USING crimped wheat in wet feeding systems for finishing pigs cuts feed costs by 22%, without compromising performance, according to research presented at the Pig and Poultry Fair.

Crimped wheat has been successfully fed to the 300-cow herd at Hethenhill Farm, near Cullompton, for nearly four years, says Jonathan Gibbins. "Crimping moist cereals fits in with the mixed enterprise farm, as it can often prove difficult harvesting dry grain in Devon.

"But we wondered whether crimped wheat could be used for finishing 3000 pigs each year to cut feed costs and improve performance. The unit already has equipment for producing crimped cereal."

As part of his agricultural degree at Reading University, he decided to try finishing pigs on crimped wheat diets on his father, Geoffreys unit. One finishing shed with 250 pigs at Hethenhill Farm was set aside to provide a true comparison, so that all the liquid feed pipes and mixer tank were solely devoted to the crimped wheat diet.

The main benefit was that the crimped wheat diet cost only £9.35 a pig, which is 22% lower than the dry milled wheat diet. "This £2.70 a pig saving soon adds up and this saving would be even larger if crimped wheat were also fed to grower pigs."

Growth rates were similar for both groups at about 0.7kg a day with an average feed conversion ratio of 2.5kg feed dry matter/kg gain. These growth rates are relatively low, but Mr Gibbins believes this was due to the low ration dry matter.

The ration dry matter content was deliberately kept at less than 18% to ensure it would pump through pipes.

"There was still a small problem with feed backing up from troughs, which may have restricted intakes. But this could be easily solved by installing 2in diameter vertical pipes instead of the existing 1.5in pipes."

In this trial, diets contained more than 60% crimped wheat or milled dry wheat together with whey and a soya-based protein balancer. He stresses that care is needed to balance energy and lysine, a difference in lysine content was blamed for the poorer back fat measurement for pigs fed crimped wheat.

The feed was produced by cutting wheat at 35-40% moisture, crimped it and then ensiled with an acid additive. &#42


Control Crimped

wheat

Start weight (kg) 55 55

Growth rate 0.73 0.70

Back fat P2 (mm) 11.2 10.6

Feed cost (£/head) 9.4 12.1

Finishing pigs performed just as well when finished on crimped wheat diets, says Geoffrey Gibbins.