How pig producers can cut feed wastage on farm

With feed price increases always a looming threat, we look at ways pig producers can ease the pressure by taking steps to reduce any feed wastage on farm.

The following checklist may help you identify areas on your unit where wastage is occurring and allow you to take practical steps to reduce feed costs:

Calculate how much creep, link and grower you are feeding your pigs

  • These are the most expensive rations and too many units are over feeding these rations.
  • Benchmarking has shown on some units as much as 12kg of creep and 26kg of link is being fed.
  • However, don’t be tempted to stop feeding creep as recent research has shown the 10-week weight of pigs not fed creep was 2.2kg lower than that of pigs fed creep and the feed conversion ratio (FCR) was 5% poorer.

Check the state of feeders and feed troughs

  • When feeders are in a poor state of repair, feed wastage will be higher.
  • Regular adjustment of feeders is essential. Build up of feed in the bottom of the trough indicates poor adjustment and at least 12% feed wastage.

Sell cull sows as quickly as possible

  • Sows that are not in-pig have a poor feed efficiency, therefore, feeding unproductive sows is wasteful.
  • Remember it is important to meet service targets. When you think the service target for a particular period will not be met, it may be worthwhile keeping sows due for culling until you are sure the service target is met.

Empty finishing pens over as short a period as possible

  • Sell the slowest growing pigs as soon as they reach a saleable weight. Poor-thriving pigs cost more to produce.
  • In addition to growing slower they convert feed less efficiently. This also applies to casualty and sick pigs, which should be humanely killed when they do not respond to treatment.

Check home mixers screens and hammers for signs of wear and tear

  • Worn screens and hammers result in feed not being ground finely enough. When ground feed contains whole or half grains feed efficiency will be 5-8% poorer.
  • However, be careful not to grind too fine. Too finely ground feed is costly in terms of energy, may cause stomach ulcers and is more likely to bridge in the feeder.

Restrict feed prior to slaughter

  • Research has shown restricting pigs for 12 hours prior to slaughter will save 1.5kg of feed a pig without adversely affecting performance, carcass weight or welfare.
  • At current feed prices this is worth approximately 30p per pig.