Feeding strategies for profitable growth in finishers from 30kg
Successful fattening is a balancing act between feed intake and conversion
The best growth, meat percentage and feed consumption are the top goals of your feeding strategy for finishers. So, how can you achieve that to maximise your profit margins? There are three primary factors you need to consider.
First you have to get fattening off to a good start by ensuring piglets from the weaner unit are strong and healthy. A clean, disinfected and dry stable with the right temperature and ventilation and access to fresh feed and water is essential. Remember to remove old food or dirt from the troughs, as this will have a negative impact on pig appetites and, consequently, daily weight gain.
Second, you need good stable routines for regularly checking the pigs’ weight and making necessary adjustments.
Thirdly, strong and healthy weight gain depends on the quality of the feed. This is about ensuring the pigs gain all the necessary nutrients at the right levels, free of toxins and ground to the right size.
|Type of water supply||Needs||Number of weaners|
|Drinking bowl||1 L/min.||15-30 pigs/bowl|
|Drinking nipple||1-2 L./min.||10 pigs per nipple|
Setting yourself up for the best returns
The key is to achieve the optimum slaughter weight per pig without spending more time than necessary in the stable, as this will reduce the kilos produced per square metre of pen space. At the end of the day, you need to gain the best possible return from the capital investment in the barn.
Market conditions typically determine the best slaughter weight for your business. If feed prices are low, a higher slaughter weight may be preferable to get the best price. On the other hand, low piglet prices may favour a lower slaughter weight to reduce the cycle time in the barn.
Regardless of the weight strategy you choose, the feed will typically still account for two-thirds of your production costs. Even a small improvement in feed efficiency can have a significant impact on the financial outcome.
Regulation of feed intake
- 30-60kg – maximum use of growth potential
During the first part of the fattening period, pigs have low feed consumption per kg of weight gain. At this stage, ad libitum feeding is crucial
- 60 kg to slaughter – weight gain optimisation to reduce feed conversion and costs and make efficient use of space
Feed intake should be limited. Although ad libitum feeding systems include several options for restricting intake, behavioural problems may arise if the feeding dispenser becomes empty or feeding breaks are too long.
Slaughter pigs can be fed ad libitum or according to a feeding curve.
Balancing conversion and utilisation
Why phase feeding works
Farmers that choose phase feeding need to invest more in feed equipment and pay more attention to handling several types of feed. The advantage is that pigs can be given a better mix at the beginning while the average price of the feed is reduced due to the lower cost of the finisher recipe. Phase feeding also gives better control of feed conversion.
In Denmark, for example, amino acid guidelines are based on farm-specific conversion rates and the desired percentage of lean meat. Actual levels of amino acids and energy should be determined as the economically optimal level for raw material selection and price relationships.
*Based on the energy content 1.06FUgp/kg feed
Choosing the best grind
- Feed mix, where 10-20 % of grain is not heat treated or pelletised, possibly expanded feed (coarsely milled feed mix that is heat treated but not pelletised)
- Pelletised feed with the grain part coarse milling.
From fine to coarse
|Distribution (grains only)||75%||25%|
Fine grinding gives the highest productivity for wheat and barley but may increase the risk of gastric health problems. Tests have shown that the annual production value of slaughter pigs could be safely improved using finely ground cereals (88% below 1 mm) compared to coarsely ground cereals (50% below 1 mm). Higher daily growth was also seen when finely ground barley was compared with coarse milling (seges/medd 1012/2014).
- Fine grinding: 80% below 1mm
- Coarse grinding: 50% below 1mm
Summing up the challenges
- Feed wastage – proper feeder regulation is necessary. A metal plate under the feeder can prevent feed from falling down into manure
- Health status – sick pigs, for example with gastric ulcers or infections, consume less feed, compromising feed conversion.
- Feed availability – pigs fed the wrong diet or with limited access to feed, perhaps due to overcrowding
- Feed quality – poor quality feed may be oxidated or contain mycotoxins.
- Environmental conditions – bad ventilation and overly high temperatures can reduce feed consumption, while consumption will go up if temperatures are too low. Feed conversion is impacted either way.
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