6 September 2002

Industry survival rests with reduced production costs

By Jonathan Long

RECENT economic data suggests that reducing cost of production is the key to the future production needs of the UK pig industry, Henry Mullens of accountants Grant Thornton told visitors to G E Bakers Summer Symposium at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The top 33% of producers recording with Agrosoft are saving £81/sow a year in feed costs compared with their average counterparts and the top 10% are saving more than £192/sow. "Along with savings on sow feed, the top 33% are also achieving 617gm/day liveweight gains, 39gm/day more than the average. This represents a 6.7% improvement in growth, resulting in pigs spending seven days less on farm," said Mr Mullens.

"These figures show that the top producers are achieving results which allow them to continually invest in the future of the industry. A saving of £81/sow, coupled with £25/sow in extra weight, would justify an investment of £753/sow."

Clearly the top producers can justify investment which their average counterparts are unable to contemplate, explained Mr Mullens.

Mortality is also a significant cost to most producers; average mortality is 12.2%. With average piglet numbers at 24.1 piglets/sow a year, this equates to 2.9 piglets/sow lost through pre-weaning mortality.

"If mortality could be eliminated then every 1000 piglets could be produced with 5.5 less sows. This results in sow feed savings of £858, ignoring the additional savings in labour, AI, vaccinations etc."

The pig industry will not survive, let alone thrive, without continued investment, says Henry Mullens.

Transition system increases growth

WEANING pigs on a transition system rather than directly onto dry feed can lead to improved growth rates of up to 14% and improved feed conversion of up to 8%, according to research carried out by Mike Baker of Porcine Services.

Analysis of the results, carried out by Henry Mullens of Grant Thornton, showed that transition feeding results in total feed costs of £25.93/pig sold, an average of 31p/kg of liveweight gain.

"While use of the transition feeding concept only results in a feed saving of 22p/pig, there is scope for increased slaughter weights due to the faster growth achieved by the pigs," said Mr Mullens.

In addition, improved growth rates free up finishing houses quicker, allowing for either further use of buildings for finishing pigs or for better disease control by having buildings empty for longer between batches of pigs. &#42