4 August 1995

Cereal cost strategy for pigs

PIG producers milling and mixing bought-in feed should devise a strategy to reduce the impact of rising cereal prices, says Dr Pauline Lee of ADAS Rosemaund.

"As feed accounts for 70% of pig production costs, a well defined strategy to respond to both year-on-year price rises and rises resulting from changes in seasonal supply levels within the year is common sense," says Dr Lee.

"In the short term, producers could look to reformulating diets. Cheaper, alternative ingredients to cereals such as biscuit meal can be obtained at short notice in some areas. Even when this is not possible, reformulation of diets will ensure that a least-cost diet is mixed if prices change," she says.

"A simple step is to tighten up on feed wastage at the trough or in the mill. Enzyme additives could also be worth considering as a short-term answer to improve efficiency of feed usage," says Dr Lee.

Few farmers in the UK forward-buy cereals to take advantage of low prices when supplies are highest due to limited storage capacities on many farms. "It may be worth investing in additional storage capacity, because savings of £5/t can be made by buying grain three months ahead," she says.

"Investments in upgrading mills to reduce feed losses and improving the mixing of diets will also help limit the impact of feed prices that occur," says Dr Lee.

"Switching to wet feeding of by-products can be a cheap alternative to cereal-based diets. But, producers must secure an adequate and reliable source of quality feedstuff."

before investing in wet feeding equipment," she says.